Expendables 4 Director Breaks Down Wild Bike Stunt In Which X Games Star "Almost Bit The Dust"
Director Scott Waugh recruited Robbie Maddison for the wildest bike-on-a-boat stunt you'll see this year.
Who do you call when you need to revive a popular action franchise like The Expendables after nearly a decade-long hiatus? Probably a stunt performer. Enter Scott Waugh, Expendables 4 director and a former stuntman who was "born and raised on set"--his late father, Fred, was a movie and TV stuntman going all the way back to the 1960s, and both Scott and his brother, Ric, are stuntmen-turned-directors.
"Being an ex-stuntman always gives me a little bit of a leg up coming into a set," Waugh said. "So to come in with these action heroes, I don't want to say I'm on common ground with them, but there is a commonality between us."
Warning: This article describes a particularly cool action sequence from late in the film.
That's the sort of thing that certainly helps on a movie like Expendables 4, especially when you're trying to juice up the action. Take, for example, a chase sequence on a cargo ship in which Jason Statham rides a dirt bike with guns mounted on the front while being chased by goons riding similar bikes. It's the sort of sequence that's so surprising it can be hard to fully grasp the first time you see it--and it's also probably the best sequence in the film.
Waugh told me that the chase itself came from the screenplay, but that he and his team escalated it when they were designing the chase.
"It was something that was written but to a small level," Waugh said. "And then when I got involved I just said, 'Man, we gotta up the ante on this. This thing is riding around the ship, this needs to be turned into some battle.' So yeah, we elevated it, and built and designed the ship in a way that really helped us be able to carry speed as well."
The sequence ends in a way that will remind Statham fans of a nearly two-decades-old sequence from Transporter 2 in which Statham's character flipped his car in order to dislodge a bomb that was attached to the underside. This time, though, he isn't doing a defensive move--he ramps the bike and flips it in order to pull off a sick airborne bike gun kill. Waugh took me through how that whole bit came to be.
"I had this moment where I was like, man, we've gotta kill this guy somehow in a unique way. And I was like, because the guns on the front of the bike, what if we get somebody like Robbie Maddison to come in and flip the motorcycle jump upside-down and get inverted to shoot this guy as he's flying through the air?" Waugh said. And when he said "somebody like Robbie Maddison," he meant they actually hired the Australian stunt bike performer and X Games gold medalist Robbie Maddison to pull off this trick. And apparently they needed him.
"When we got Robbie to come out and do it, it was pretty damn exciting. He did the jump for me five times, and it looked great. But I had something in my mind where I just wanted him to get upside-down. And I came to him and I said 'Hey man, Robin could do me a favor? You think he could flick it out a little bit more?' And he looked at me kind of smiling and he goes 'All right, I'll see what I can do.' And that's what's in the movie, man," Waugh revealed, before stressing how difficult the jump ended up being.
"He almost bit the dust on it because he got so flicked out, but you know he's Robbie Madison, he's gonna recover. And we were like, yeah, we're not doing that anymore. Good shot, next, moving on."
While that may have been the most spectacular bit of stunt work on Expendables 4, it wasn't Waugh's personal favorite part. That honor goes instead to the climactic fist fight between Statham and The Raid star Iko Uwais.
It's got two great fight actors in cinema right now," Waugh said. "Obviously, Iko from The Raid. Everyone knows how badass that guy is. And to put them together and let these two just go at it without stunt doubles and design an amazing fight. It's, you know, four and a half minutes long. It was, for me, awesome, and I think ends in absolute Expendables style."
As for Waugh's brother, Ric Roman Waugh--whose profile has increased in recent years after directing the Gerard Butler films Angel Has Fallen, Greenland and Kandahar--Scott says they don't really have any kind of professional relationship.
"My brother and I are very tight as brothers and we really respect that our work is something separate than that, and we're there to support each other, but we're definitely never there to critique each other," Waugh said. "We have enough of the world trying to bring us down--why should our brother do the same thing? So we're good at just being brothers."
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