“Top gear and full throttle” is a phrase that most speed demons only dream of in our 65-mph world, but the romance of speed fuels The Fast and the Furious films. In the fifth installment of the roaring franchise, Fast Five, the stakes are even higher and the stunts more awe-inspiring.
At the heart of the speed-driven film is the 1970 Dodge Charger that Dom (Vin Diesel) drives. It killed Dom’s father and was totaled twice, but, like the Terminator, it keeps coming back. Picture car coordinator — yes, a film like this needs someone with that title — Dennis McCarthy did make some changes to the car. “[It has] bigger wheels and tires, better suspension, better steering — a lot of stuff you’ll never really see on screen,” McCarthy says. “The blower was removed but we actually have a brand-new Chrysler Hemi with a cross ram on it. The Charger gets to do some racing, and it prevails every time.”
A film like Fast Five can eat even the most durable pieces of steel, so McCarthy had five versions of the vintage car built. But it is the newest incarnation of the Charger, the redesigned 2011 model, that pulls off the vault heist, one of the most impressive action sequences in the film.
“When Dodge showed us the new Charger, we immediately knew it was going to work,” co-producer Neal H. Moritz says. “Rarely do we collaborate so closely with one car manufacturer, but in this case it was an organic fit.”
The Charger is joined by other famous muscle cars — including a 1972 De Tomaso Pantera, a 2007 Corvette GS Roadster and a Ford GT40 — though most of the cars are replicas. “When you get into the quantities of cars that we’re destroying through that train heist sequence, I’d burn through the entire picture car budget with one vehicle,” McCarthy says.
So care might have been taken with the expensive cars, but 200 vehicles were destroyed throughout the making of Fast Five. Fans will say the expense was more than worth it.
“Fast Five” is now showing on Video On Demand. Check your cable system for availability.
© 2011 Universal Studios