Fast & Furious 9 was filmed in Edinburgh over 19 days in September 2019, 19 days that translate into a 12 minute high octane chase through the streets of the Capital.
Add in the other 68 days it took to set up and strike the movie sets at the end of filming and you get an insight into the scale of the operation that took place to showcase the magical spectacle of Edinburgh to a global audience. And magical it is.
The Capital’s first mention in the movie is low key – it pops up on a computer screen. Its second, when Helen Mirren's Queenie tells Dominic Toretto, played by Vin Diesel, that Edinburgh is where he needs to head on his quest to recover elements of the mysterious Project Aries... and so the Fast and Furious 'super-spies' head north.
From a glorious opening aerial shot, swooping low over the Castle to reveal the unfolding symmetry of the New Town's vista the camera’s love of Edinburgh is taken to another level in Fast & Furious 9.
For anyone new to the franchise, Fast 9 is the penultimate part of the trilogy that is set to bring the long-running series of films to an close. Or at least that’s the plan for now.
With an A-list cast, Diesel is joined by Michelle Rodreguez, Jordana Brewster, Tyrese Gibson, Ludacris, Nathalie Emmanuel, John Cena, Charlize Theron and Kurt Russell.
Flashing between the present and 1889, the latest installment of the Fast Saga is the story of a family torn apart by tragedy, intertwined with an all action and occasionally downright silly quest to recover a weapon so dangerous 'it shouldn't exist for another half century'.
With the scene set, Fast & Furious 9 has everything you could want from an action thriller, there's a secret base, a baddie with a private army, spectacular stunts, girl-power from start to finish and more full-throttle shoot-em-up car chases than you can imagine as our heroes travel the world, calling at Montequinto, the Caspian Sea, Tokyo, Cologne and London before arriving in Edinburgh, around an hour and five minutes into the film.
On an instantly recognisable Royal Mile, St Giles' Cathedral features heavily, we find Megan Ramsey (Nathalie Emmanuel) co-ordinating the action from the corner of St Giles’ Street and the Lawnmarket – it's great to see the High Street populated in a way not seen for past 16 months. The humor is ratcheted up too as the Capital takes centre-stage, Roman (Gibson) telling Tej (Ludacris) that their mission is like 'where's Waldo in Harry Potter world'. With locals looking more like they’re Fringe performers, Edinburgh is a city in which the regulars are certainly out of their comfort zone.
The first native Scot to appear also raises a laugh, delivering the line, 'What the hell, Jimmy!' in an accent that would make The Simpson's Groundskeeper Willie proud. Other nice touches are the ‘local’ companies that feature on the liveries of various vehicles, see how many you can spot. Such detail for blink and you’ll miss them moments.
As the chase on the streets below roars around the High Street, Victoria Street and Cockburn Street, above the city's famous architecture, the hunted villian effortlessly zip-wires from roof to roof, giving unique views of some of the city’s iconic sights. Almost seamlessly, as the pursuit continues, the action shifts to the New Town - trucks and cars careering along George Street, Melville Street and Waterloo Place. In this segment, director Justin Lin takes advantage of the Regent Bridge and Edinburgh’s love of tour buses to stage possibly the most breathtaking stunt of the movie, although another set piece, that finds the chase forced to split as it reaches the junction at West Port and Bread Street, gives it a good run for its money.
As the action leaves Edinburgh behind, the film continues, jumping the odd shark along the way, not least with a laugh out loud scene 'Moonraker' possibly inspired by one of Bond’s most over the top story lines. Outrageous, action packed fun then, but with a 12A certificate you can rest safe in the knowledge that despite leaving a trail of 'death' and destruction in their wake, the baddies may be firing machine guns like they are going out of fashion but, thankfully, they are all rotten shots ensuring Fast & Furious 9 is a film that can be enjoyed by all the family, from the advised age up, obvioulsy.
As for Edinburgh, in 12 mind-blowing minutes of footage the Capital holds its own and packs every bit as dramatic punch as you might expect Manhattan or, for that matter, any other location any where in the world, to do.
Fast & Furious 9 is on general release in cinemas now