15 January 2021

Smoking tyres and car chase dramas shut down Civic, but this time it's all legal

| Genevieve Jacobs
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Stunt car in Civic

A wrecked stunt vehicle during filming in Civic yesterday. Photo: Thomas Lucraft.

There was screeching noise and smoking tyres aplenty but this time rogue Summernats fans weren’t to blame.

Several city blocks were shut down on Thursday morning (14 January) as film crews shot dramatic car chase scenes in Civic on the corner of Akuna and Bunda streets.

The barrelling garbage truck and the grey Dodge chasing it (both left-hand drive) were filming scenes for an action blockbuster starring Liam Neeson, although only his body double was on view during the day.

READ ALSO Roads to close in Civic as Hollywood takes advantage of Canberra’s very particular set of skills

Blacklight, starring the 68-year-old Neeson, has a budget of $54 million and is currently shooting in Melbourne, but Canberra has been chosen as the location for a crucial car chase sequence, which will use world-leading pre-visualisation technology to transform Canberra into downtown Washington DC.

Car chase

The car chase scene begins. Photo: Thomas Lucraft.

The shoot will create employment for up to 60 local crew and is expected to bring more than $1.5 million of investment into the city, including a boost for hotels and hospitality venues.

The corner opposite Glebe Park and the Canberra Centre was blocked off for the chase scenes, repeated for hour upon hour from around 7:00 am.

The event attracted dozens of spectators who watched the truck lurching around the Glebe Park corner heading towards the casino while the Dodge pursued it on the footpath. Over and over and over again.

Liam Neeson's stunt double

The Dodge-ing traffic in Civic. Liam Neeson’s body double is at the wheel. Photo: Thomas Lucraft.

Multiple other vehicles with Virginia number plates were part of the chase scene, which included a cyclist taking evasive action and a car pulling out on cue to swerve through the intersection. The Stars and Stripes flew on the street near a wrecked utility vehicle sporting Confederate flag and pro-gun stickers.

About a dozen support crew were visible including several film crew and six traffic controllers. The garbage truck cabin included multiple cameras focussed on the front seat drivers and there was also a technical support van.

Technical support van

The technical support van for the film crew. Photo: Thomas Lucraft.

Some local traffic confusion ensued and drivers leaving the Canberra Centre car park were forced to wait until each take was completed to turn into the street behind the filming.

But for the dozens of local spectators, there was action aplenty as a siren went off, the crew yelled for quiet and a truck and car came screeching round corner accompanied by roaring engine noise, smoke and screeching tyres.

As one satisfied bystander commented, “it’s the noise that makes it, really”.

Further filming will take place through the weekend on:

  • London Circuit from Constitution Avenue to Ainslie Avenue
  • Akuna Street from London Circuit to Cooyong Street
  • Bunda Street from Petrie Street to Binara Street
  • Binara Street from Akuna Street to Allara Street
  • Allara Street from Binara Street to Constitution Avenue
  • Nangari Street from Allara Street to London Circuit
  • Rabaul Lane from Nangari Street to Akuna Street.

Nightly road closures will also be in place on the following roads from Monday, 18 January to Friday, 22 January between 8:00 pm and 6:00 am at Wilden Street, Murden Street and William Clemens Street in the city centre and there will also be a rolling road closure on Parkes Way between Wendouree Drive and Clunies Ross Street.

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