The following story will contain very mild spoilers for F9, the new Fast & Furious movie that’s now in theaters. Proceed with caution.
It was a running joke. The Fast and Furious franchise has pulled off so many ridiculous stunts over the years, including dragging a safe through Rio de Janeiro and The Rock pushing a torpedo with his bare hands, that fans would say the only place for this franchise to go would be “space.” That’s the textbook answer for any franchise that has been around for this long. It’s how Jason ended up in the stratosphere for the tenth Friday the 13th movie. When F9 director Justin Lin came on CinemaBlend’s ReelBlend podcast, though, he talked about his plans to try and practically film the space stunt in his movie… until he was told that he can’t.
In the F9 story, the reason that the team needs to get to space is so Tej (Ludacris) and Roman (Tyrese Gibson) can access a satellite and shut down a crucial transmission that the film’s villain, Jakob (John Cena), needs to implement his evil plan. Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) and his crew don’t have access to a shuttle. So they put Tej and Roman in scuba-diving suits and launch them into space in a Pontiac Fiero. I kid you not.
And while the bulk of the scenes involving Tej and Roman as astronauts use really good visual effects to pull it off, there was a time when Justin Lin -- who adores using practical effects whenever possible and tries to captures as much of his action in camera as he can -- explored the notion of coming up with a solution that would have allowed him to film a car in the atmosphere.
Justin Lin told ReelBlend:
I was going to get a Fiero, and I was going to put it on a weather balloon, and we were going to take it up into the upper atmosphere. But the cost of it, and also just how to get it back… it became this logistical nightmare that I ended up using -- obviously for reference, we were using real footage but talking to you now, I feel like, ‘Damn, that was the one thing.’ I was going to put the cameras on there. But the recon of trying to get all of that (was too much).
Now, we asked Justin Lin to clarify whether or not he planned to put this Pontiac Fiero into the upper atmosphere with stunt performers or his actors IN the car! Because this is F9, so anything is possible. But he stopped us short, explaining with a laugh:
Yes, I did, but I think I got talked out of that very quickly. But I was actually going to put a car, or at least the frame of a car, and I was going to do the mount shots. We were just going to get it up there. We did all of the research. The number of conversations I had about that was insane.
F9 got off to a very fast start on its opening night, and is expected to perform well all weekend. Welcome back to theaters, America. Your Fast family is waiting for you.