Finally…..the Chem-rail. Probably the most in your face prop from the film sans the Exo skeleton on Matt’s back because of this one picture that seems to have appeared in every magazine or website at one point advertising the film. Its also the picture because of the lighting that made people ask “is that gun green or black?”
Well its black. Except when they use green ones.
The description from IMW.com tells the story better than I can.
Max De Costa (Matt Damon) grabs a ChemRail rifle during the fight in the Elysium armory. The ChemRail has a high rate of fire, and its high-velocity rounds rip right through walls and shred enemies. The weapon has a blazing rate of fire, and instead changing magazines, Max just grabs another Chem-rail rifle from the armory after the first one runs out of ammo. According to the official site, it fires 8.75x52mm FSDRAS (Fin Stabilized, Discarding Rail Accelerator Sabot) rounds with a muzzle energy of 18 kilo joules. It is a dual-stage weapon, use chemical propellant first and then electro-magnetic rails as the second stage.
Designed and belt by Weta the first week of the VIP auction saw a black with white lettering rubber variant sell for $6200. An amazing price, for frankly an amazing prop. The problem was just how many of them in the auction. Thanks to the unit prop list and several photos online we had a good idea.
Instagram picture of the Chem rails in the prop shop at Weta by Neil Blomkamp
It would be the auction itself that gave us more information about what kind of guns were made. As sold VIP sold a number of guns. The first rubber in August, a second resin gun at around the same price, and a working version for around $4,000 in November.
Working version of Max’s weapon
The working gun had particle effects, smoke and a working moving barrel when the gun was powered. Unfortunately the black one did not have the power packs required. Those were sold back in October with the green chem-rail that had tape on it that Drake used. This one sold for around $4,000. Pictures below.
Drake also uses a green variant in other scenes without the tape attached. This version was seen more frequently in the VIP auctions, when of the very nicest on your-props
Chem-rail owned by RKPETERSEN on your-props
The text with it describes nicely the “mid range Chem-rails” made for production, when not firing or being thrown around.
This ‘high resolution’ prop is composed of fiberglass and other materials, and represents an intermediate between the hero weapon seen in closeup and the simpler background props. Although largely static, the spring-loaded trigger is depressible, and the stock has an integrated spring shock absorber that causes the rear of the weapon to compress when pulled back against the shoulder, simulating recoil.
These green versions sold between $1500-2500 and whilst not as popular as the black/white variant a beautiful prop from the film. A rubber version sold for $1250 and the working one was addressed above. There were approximately 6 of the green versions sold by VIP.
Around the time of the film we found out that Weta was making a replica version of this gun for $399 which I must admit put me off at the time in an edition of 750. Now knowing they will have no working parts or ability to break down as per the originals I’m not nearly as concerned.
This was of course after San Diego Comic con where Weta showed off the robot, pistol, grenade and of course the Chem-rail. Interestingly enough several of the props were wrongly painted and detailed. You may remember for instance the orange SMG from the art book. On closer inspection the Chem rail is wrong.
If you look closely the green area has the bar code too high, a red graphic on the front handle, the orange sticker near the barrel is too big. I suspect this was made after production for the event and they simply ran out of some of the graphics, the guns having already made it from Mexico/Vancouver to VIP in the mid-west for sale.
The final version of the chem-rail never made it to script. In this early script fragment Matt Damon pulls a railgun from the Raven and in the confrontation with Kruger has it literally melted out of his hand.
This is the version sold on ebay as the “melted” chem-rail which didn’t appear in the final cut of the movie.
These are actually hero resin guns made for production that have been drilled out in the middle section and wires attatched down the side of the rifle that allow a current to pass thru to electrical wires inside the gun. A layer of chemicals and flashpaper were then put over the exterior of the piece and ignited to simulate the material burning and melted as per the script. When the sequence was changed Max merely throws the Chem-rail to the ground in the finished film. When we see it again, a fresh one the effect of lightning on the side is shown simulating the damage similar to the effect below.
Whilst not used these are still part of the original weapons made for the film and still an important artifact of production.
Crate of Chem-rails delivered to production from WETA
Ill leave you with these stunning final pictures of the evolution of the gun from Aaron Beck and the final pictures taken by Weta after production. More soon!
Original design Chem-rail
Weta final product build