A military flatbed truck speeds across a perilously high bridge. Our heroes are in the cab. Thugs fire rocket launchers from either side of the span.
The truck swerves purposefully off the bridge as it explodes. A helicopter falls from the back — one hero has already climbed inside. The other two grab on while free falling and they fly away.
It's an impossible, bombastic action-packed crescendo, akin to Vin Diesel's snowboard escape from an avalanche in "XXX," but this isn't a scene from "XXX 2," it's just a sample of what to expect from "Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle."
"Obviously all the fun and the beauty and the sexiness is still intact," director McG said of the sequel, originally tagged "Halo." "But what we all wanted to do when we got together was just make it decidedly more muscular and more masculine and show that these are girls that can hang with the boys and play on that action level."
McG, a one-time music video director whose $40 million opening weekend with "Charlie's Angels" set a record for first-time directors, was visibly giddy about reuniting with Drew Barrymore (who also produces), Cameron Diaz and Lucy Liu. He's also stoked to be teaming up with new "Angels" villain Demi Moore, Bernie Mack (who has replaced Bill Murray as "Bosley") and Pink, who has a small role.
"It is more intense than the first one," he said, animatedly bouncing around at a recent press conference. "I think the girls have got the bruises to prove that. ... There's a really healthy spirit amongst everybody on the set to make that stuff feel really gritty and really rough. ... It feels like you're in the middle of 'Raging Bull' in some of these sequences."
McG said that the collective move towards a "tougher" Angels flick is what prompted the switch from "Halo" to "Full Throttle."
"We didn't want it to feel girly, you know, 'Angels,' meaning you have to be feminine and soft. We have a lot of velocity in this picture and a lot of things that are driven by gasoline engines," he said. "It's all about women succeeding in environments that are traditionally male-driven."
And of course, who understands that environment better than bubble-gum R&B singer turned chick-rocker Pink?
"She's someone who we're all a fan of," he said. "The movie's pro-everybody, it's pro-ethnicity, it's pro-man, it's pro-woman. It's 'everybody just be the best that you can be and do your thing.' We all got together and creatively felt that Pink was someone who personified pulling yourself up by your bootstraps and getting out there and doing your thing. And being as sexy as you want to be and as tough as you want to be and doing what you believe in."
And as for Moore's inclusion in the picture?
"We wanted a very worthy adversary," McG explained. "And we started thinking about Demi Moore and how we were all raised on her pictures. We conceived a character that from day one we all felt like it [had] to be Demi. We sent our secret weapon in Drew Barrymore to start talking to her and see if she could resist the temptation of Drew to come play with us and have a great time in a movie."
McG said that after the first film, he and the girls swore a "blood oath" around Drew's coffee table to all return for a sequel, outside opportunities be damned. He recently had to let the "Superman" project he had been developing with JJ Abrams fall into another director's hands (see " 'Rush Hour 2' Director To Helm New 'Superman' Movie"). "Such is the breaks in Hollywood," he said. "When they wanted to go on the picture, I was taking care of business here. And they needed to move forward on the picture."
Though he just launched the "Fastlane" TV series, McG insisted "Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle," which is still shooting, is his top priority. He's hoping the flick's revved-up action will help it go down as a sequel on par with James Cameron's second "Terminator" or even "The Godfather 2."
"Speaking very [much] from the heart," he said, "we feel pretty good about the way people came out of the theater with the first one. ... We dove into this thing inventing it as we go, and now I feel like we've got a little bit more of a handle on it and we're trying to take it even higher."