Fast Five’s cliff jumping sequence set the tone for the franchise’s transition into an action series, but how did the crew pull off the stunt?
Fast Five‘s Corvette cliff diving scene truly set the tone for what was to come in the fifth Fast & Furious installment and beyond. The film series was no stranger to action-packed stunt sequences, but propelling a car over the side of a canyon marked the beginning of a new chapter. Once a saga focused on street-racing, The Fast Saga slowly transformed into a full-blown action franchise. Fast Five sped up the transition with several memorable heart-pounding stunts, starting with the cliff dive. Here’s how the cast and crew pulled off the dangerous sequence starring Vin Diesel and Paul Walker as Dominic Toretto and Brian O’Conner, respectively.
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Continuing with the scene at the end of 2009’s Fast & Furious, Brian freed Dom from a prison transport bus with the help of Dom’s sister, Mia Toretto (Jordana Brewster). After escaping to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, the trio joined a mission to steal cars from a moving train. The vehicles turned out to be owned by drug lord Hernan Reyes (Joaquim de Almeida), but they were recently seized by the DEA. When Reyes’ henchmen killed the DEA agents, Dom and Brian tried to flee after sending Mia away in one of the stolen cars. With their involvement in an assault that led to the deaths of DEA agents, Dom, Brian, and Mia then became the targets of DSS agent Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson).
Before the trio could escape to a Rio safehouse to enlist a team to take down Reyes, the group had to safely escape from the henchman’s grasp. Mia made it to the rendezvous point in the car holding an important computer chip, but Dom and Brian were stuck on the train. Dom then took the 1963 Chevrolet Corvette Sting Ray Grand Sport to rescue Brian from the movie train just before it went over a bridge. With nowhere to turn, Dom had no choice but to drive off of the canyon’s edge, plunging into the water below as Brian hung onto the back of the Corvette. The car, including its two passengers, experienced a 15-second freefall before hitting the water. Though Diesel and Walker were heavily involved in the making of the scene, the pair weren’t the ones to dive into the canyon. Still, Fast Five used thrilling filming techniques rather than relying on CGI.
According to a behind-the-scenes look into Fast Five‘s canyon jump stunt (via YouTube), the crew filmed the cliff jump in two parts. As explained by visual effects supervision Michael J. Wassel, two stuntmen portraying Dom and Brian, were shot jumping from the cliff into the water while tethered. Then, a real Corvette Sting Ray was launched into the canyon using an air cannon. That sequence, along with the one featuring the stuntmen, were then combined in post-production, making it look like it all happened simultaneously.
To polish off the cliff jump sequence in Fast Five, Wassel and his team used a green screen to create the moment leading up to the freefall. With Diesel in the driver’s seat and Walker hanging onto the back, the car’s movements were simulated as the actors were pulled upwards with cables. Diesel and Walker also filmed scenes emerging from the water to show the characters directly after the freefall. The sequence wasn’t as technical as Fast Five‘s vault heist stunt, but it helped prove the lengths the franchise was willing to go after taking on the identity of an action series.
More: Fast & Furious: Young Dominic Toretto Can Explain F9’s Biggest Retcon
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