While I know the whole Fast and Furious series has been a favorite among various Jalop staffers and our global community, I can’t say I’ve really been a huge fan. Still, I’ve watched a few of them — they do feature good cars and some of the most idiotic everything else — and there are scenes that stick in my head, oddly and persistently, like a rash or a nervous tic.
One of them is a very strange encounter in Fast and Furious 6 from 2013, where the two main hairless muscle guys have a really baffling interaction. I recently learned that I’m not the only one deeply confused by this scene, and especially the way it looks.
The scene is near the end of the movie, where Vin Diesel’s character, Dom something, has a conversation with Rock “The Dwayne” Johnson’s adversarial character, a cop named Hobbs, and they have to express some sort of mutual feelings that require words and not just a headbutt or a shove.
They’re trying to tell each other, I don’t know, something where the gist is hey thanks, goodbye, good luck, but for reasons that felt confusing and weird when watching the movie, they can’t seem to be able to just face one another and talk, like humans do, so instead they stand side-by-side, facing opposite directions, looking past one another and talking.
It’s weird as hell and feels artificial and ridiculous and baffling — that I remember from when I saw the movie in the theater at some screening way back when.
What I didn’t really remember is just how incredibly fucking bizarre this scene is visually:
As our pal Lilyeliz there points out, the perspective in this shot is absolutely bonkers. They’re supposed to be standing next to each other, but the way it’s shot makes them look like one is vastly bigger than the other.
So it starts with the two meaty, fuzzless bookends standing in this ridiculous way that, again, humans do not do. In this shot, it looks like The Rock is staring at a 3/4-scale Vin Diesel mannequin he bought at Party City.
Then, when the shot changes to focus on one of them, the perspective gets weird and it looks like the Rock is talking to a shaved toddler:
It kinda’ hurts your brain to look at these, like an optical illusion. The images are flattened, there’s no change in focus from one head to the other, so they look like they’re on the same plane and the sizes go all crazy.
Oh, that’s so good. That’s exactly what looks like is happening here.
According to visual effects artist Todd Vaziri over at Industrial Light and Magic, the illusion is at least in part due to our brains wanting to read this sort dual person setup as one where the two figures are making eye contact:
What’s even less clear is why the scene was shot like this. Perhaps it was clumsy and ham-fisted attempt to convey how the two characters felt about each other through some dopey visual cues. But it could also be because maybe the two actors were not even in the same place when they shot this scene.
There seems to have been a big beef between the two actors that I’d managed to be ignorant of until this moment, and there are rampant rumors that they weren’t even able to stomach being together long enough to film this scene, a manner of hissyfittery which you would think would get most people fired from their jobs.
But not here. If this theory is to be believed, the two actors were shot separately, then composited together. Another possibility proposed by scholars of This Confusing FF6 Scene is that there was an attempt to force the perspective to make Vin Diesel look as big as The Rock, who is more massive in our boring reality, which is also a reality where you don’t have to shift an automatic 40 times while driving.
I encourage everyone to watch this deeply unsettling scene and make your brain feel funny. It’s probably good for you.