‘Fate of the Furious’ Fact Check: Could Those Crazy Stunts Really Happen?

Can The Rock redirect a torpedo? Can all self-driving cars in Manhattan be hacked? Find out what the MythBusters had to say

Fate of the Furious

(Spoiler alert: Do not read on if you haven’t seen “The Fate of the Furious”)

The “Fast and Furious” franchise is known for its unbelievable and out-of-this-world action stunts, and in that respect, “The Fate of the Furious” doesn’t disappoint. According to the MythBusters, some of the craziest scenarios even have some truth behind them.

“The truth to any good movie or stunt is that it’s slightly past what we have right now but it’s based on here and now,” said Brian Louden from Science Channel’s New MythBusters. “There is enough truth and science behind it to make you believe it.”

The MythBusters dissect six crazy scenes below:

1) Can The Rock Redirect a Torpedo With His Bare Hands?

Even though the actor, who plays Hobbs, tweeted that he indeed can “redirect” a two-ton torpedo, we asked Louden and Jonathan Lung whether that’s actually humanly possible. And to our surprise — it is.

The duo said they tried to find the right torpedo that matches the one in the film, which looks like a classic, modern torpedo. They made assumptions to make their calculations such as measuring the distance from The Rock’s car to the other car as well as the relative speed of a torpedo, that is actually meant to be in water.

“The typical cruising speed for a torpedo is about 60 mph, but it’s going to be slower above water,” Lung said. Because it’s on ice and the other car was about nine car lengths away, they say The Rock would have to push about 450 foot-pounds of force to veer this torpedo.

The fact that the torpedo didn’t explode when it busted through the ice in the film made The MythBusters assume that the torpedo had a time delay in arming the torpedo. Since it busted through the ice, it wasn’t armed — otherwise it wouldn’t have made it through the ice.

“We are making this assumption based on the screenshots from the trailer and guessing things but I would say The Rock is a pretty strong dude,” said the duo. “It being on ice and given that it’s The Rock, I am going to give it to him so it could be possible, but it would be a heroic feat.”

Rock Grenade Fate of the Furious

2) What About The Rock Tossing Away a Grenade?

Well, for starters, The MythBusters don’t think the contraption that Charlize Theron and Vin Diesel use to attack the headquarters is real. It’s like a system that fires off several grenades, which made The MythBusters believe they modeled their prop after the timer fuse on a classic grenade.

“The classic grenade and throwing it back, that’s a working premise that’s real,” said Louden. “It’s a countdown timer, you can grab it and throw it away before it’s done with the countdown.”

So it’s entirely possible that the grenade had a long enough countdown (each grenade has a different countdown typically between 4 to 8 seconds) for The Rock to throw it behind him.

3) Could Someone Actually Hack All Self-Driving Cars In Manhattan?

If they were 1,500 Teslas, yes. But The MythBusters say it isn’t really possible for someone to hack into the systems of normal self-driving cars that have the capacity of parallel parking — at least in our current time.

That’s because the self-driving systems on other vehicles that can parallel park only have access to the brake, steer and throttle mechanisms in a car, which can be remote controlled — but you would need to a) see the vehicle to remote control it and b) know the exact location of the car’s starting point.

Teslas have GPS and cameras that can optically see lanes and know where it is relative to the world, but the brand new Jeep does not have that kind of technology. The computer only has access to throttle, brake and steering but the software could never drive the Jeep off the ramp without knowing the starting position.

But The MythBusters add that it also depends on how much prep Theron had to execute this hack. After all, her character is supposed to be this crazy hacker called Cipher.

“There are 1,500 Teslas in Manhattan right now,” said Louden. “If you plan it, if you put some work into it, there’s no reason why you couldn’t have an army of Tesla cars taking over Manhattan.”

4) Could Vin Diesel Win a Race Using Laughing Gas?

In the opening sequence, Diesel removes all the heavy parts of a car in order for it to go faster. Lung said that’s standard procedure.

Diesel’s use of laughing gas to rev up the engine, which Michelle Rodriguez calls “Cuban NOS” (typically spelled “NOx” or the brand name “NOS” — the latter of which they use in the franchise), has at least a little bit of truth to it.

“In the movie, the idea of adding NOx, if done, right, would absolutely work and produce a lot of power,” said Louden. “About adding NOx, they are right. In concept, they have the possibility.”

According to Louden, NOx provides more oxygen to the engine. In NOx modified cars, when you press that button, it pumps in more gas with oxygen, but if the engine is weaker, it’s not going to contain that power.

After reviewing the car used in the scene, Louden said that a vehicle could survive an engineered solution — one specifically designed for the vehicle that provided very little extra boost.

“As we predicted, the engine/NOS combination would not hold up. There would have been a large bang, some smaller fire and no movement,” the duo said. “This is the least likely outcome with the most possible setup we have reviewed for this.”

5) Could Charlize Theron Actually Fly an Invisible Plane?

In the movie, Theron is surprised to see that her plane has been compromised, given that it’s literally supposed to fly under the radar. The idea of an invisible plane seems somewhat unrealistic, but The MythBusters say there are two ways to avoid radar — passively and actively.

Passively, you could fly so low that radar waves basically balance between ground and 200 feet. But if it’s a large aircraft, you’re not going to fly it that low — it’s not fuel efficient and it’s dangerous.

Another passive way is to have rolling smooth edges on the plane that reflect rays in a different direction than from the original radar.

There’s also special paint, used by the military, that could be used that absorbs electromagnetic rays so it becomes “invisible.” However, the plane could not literally be invisible or camouflage itself to fit the background.

“In the ‘Avengers’ movie, there is a fake technology where they use retro-reflective panels. It’s essentially a made-up science thing,” Lung said. “Currently, there is no active camouflage, like some squids in the ocean can change their color to match their background. Nature has got it done pretty well, but we don’t have the technology yet.”

However, looking at a picture of the plane in the trailer, Lauden says that it is “a large aircraft unlikely to fly Map of the Earth,” and that the paint color “indicates a not passive stealth aircraft.”

“It appears to be a Boeing E-3 Sentry modified with a second dish on top,” he said. “The E-3 would be the correct aircraft for a ‘Hacker Plane’ as it is designed for advanced communication. The dish contains a number of antenna which can be used for communication intercept/hacking/and radar jamming.”

He added, “Based on all this it is highly unlikely the aircraft could go unnoticed with modern radar. The best they could achieve is a radar system that knows it is being attacked and something was hiding from it. At which point the military would turn to other methods of locating the aircraft. Assuming thermal countermeasures which would not be typical of that aircraft, they still have no method to defeat light based identification. Both visual or computational.”

Fate of the Furious

6) Could a Submarine Actually Race Cars?

In the final scene, there is an insane chase over a frozen Russian bay. In the sequence, the protagonists race a submarine to a set of sea locks — an underwater gateway — in an effort to block the sub from escaping into the open ocean. Could it catch up to the speeding cars? No, especially not to the ($1 million!) Lamborghini or the Bentley.

“Even modern submarines fail to reach basic highway speeds,” said Louden. “Fifty mph is a strong request when you are pushing through the water even with a nuclear reactor’s worth of power. We know the other vehicles are easily capable of more speed. The submarine could not possibly catch the cars without an advantage. That advantage is the ice. The sub is in its home turf, what it was designed for. Lambo tires should never touch ice, they just aren’t going to be made for it. So with reduced traction it may be difficult to get the Lambo to get the speed you want with out losing control. My gut tells me the Lambo still holds the advantage. If I had to bet on a race, I would.”