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Vault Heists and Car Chases
As outrageous as the action sequences may have seemed over the course of the series, Morgan constantly pushes the limits of what's possible (and filmable) when he writes. Still, he has always kept in mind Lin's desire to shoot as much practically as possible. The vault heist was an idea he'd been mulling as early as development on Fast & Furious, but the premise didn't quite fit into how he envisioned the sequence playing out. Therefore, Morgan filed it away until Fast Five came around.

To ensure that the mind-blowing action would occur, the filmmakers tapped SPIRO RAZATOS, who engineered the bold driving action on Death Race and Vantage Point, to direct their second-unit action alongside veteran stunt coordinator JACK GILL.

Razatos and Gill were blown away by what they saw on Fast & Furious, and both were enthusiastic when the filmmakers contacted them. However, the veteran stuntmen were a bit overwhelmed when Lin explained the premise for the vault heist. Always game for a challenge, the professional partners were sold on the idea.

They began the project with a battery of testing all aspects of what the Chargers and vaults were capable of physically doing. As chaotic as the scene read, the damage exacted by the vault had very specific beats that had to be synchronized with the drama playing out between Dom and Brian as they navigated their cars down Rio's streets.

Razatos' approach was to access a number of camera cars used in previous films, such as the ultimate arm-camera crane perched atop a Porsche Cayenne. This gave him access to spectacular angles to capture anything he wanted, and it allowed him to maneuver between high or low in a matter of seconds.

As well, the spunky Subie-cam, a Subaru STI modified with a steel cage built around it (that allowed for a mobile camera head to be affixed), was able to deliver beautiful tracking shots from a variety of camera-mounted positions. There were several instances where stunt driver ALLEN PADELFORD was so close that the Subie-cam and the vault connected. Fortunately, it created some sparks that provide priceless footage well worth the nail-biting takes.

Another inventive tool used to capture multidimensional action was the brainchild of Padelford. The Charger Pod, a top-mount dual-drive system that allowed for tight-quarter filming inside the car—giving access to the performer as he or she executed a 180-degree turn or drifted—served as the production's new toy. The pod was secured atop one of the Dodge Chargers, and the steering systems were aligned so that stunt driver ROBERT NAGLE could fully control the driving as the actors shot their scene in the car below. It was a brilliant solution to place the audience more fully in the midst of the tire-squealing action.

One of the more difficult aspects of filming the vault chase was to create six versions of the prized vault that Dom and Brian intended to boost. It was a gargantuan task that had Razatos, Gill and the special effects crew building multipurpose vaults long into the night. Each vault had its own task, whether it was to serve as a vault faƧade (built and rigged onto the front of semitruck so tight shots could be filmed as the vault destroyed five cars at a time) or to function as the reinforced stunt vault that was hooked up to 30 foot cables and dragged throughout San Juan by two Dodge Chargers. Razatos and Gill extensively tested them with vehicles to ensure they were up to taking on the task at hand. Make no mistake, the Chargers were workhorses that got the job done.

Understandably, the eight-foot-high, four-wheel self-drive vault, driven by premier stunt driver HENRY KINGI, was the crown jewel of the vault builds. It amazed crew and passersby who were lucky enough to stumble upon filming and see the insane sight of a four-ton vault speeding down the street. Kingi, who donned a special temperature-controlled suit to combat the crippling 100-plus-degree temperatures inside the car, drove the vault from the holding area to the set to prepare for the day's work.

 As with Fast & Furious and Tokyo Drift, Lin used VFX judiciously to maintain the proven Fast formula of big action. The director again turned to visual effects supervisor MIKE WASSEL, who enhanced the look of the two previous Fast films, to make sure that the VFX elements merged flawlessly with the filmed elements.

The San Juan suburb of Hato Rey saw most of the action, but the 1.5-mile Teodoro Moscoso Bridge, a major thoroughfare that connects San Juan to neighboring Isla Verde, was also used to film the final showdown between Dom and Reyes. A pier on a former U.S. Navy base 60 miles outside San Juan substituted for the bridge to capture the more hardcore action of the vault swatting police cars into the water. Rio Piedras also had its fair share of filming as parts of a robbery and ambush scene were filmed there. It wasn't uncommon to see a daily barrage of car chases, gunfire and window-trembling explosions in the area.

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