Without a high speed chase or four, the “The Fast & the Furious” would be no more than the idle and the content.
So the ninth film in the franchise, “Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw,” appropriately features several international, high-octane pursuits involving the title characters played by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Jason Statham.
One of the most elaborate of these sees a sleek — and pricey — McLaren 720S sports car zooming away from a futuristic, shape-shifting motorcycle through London’s financial district.
“The logistics behind a car chase of that size are nothing short of mind-numbing,” director David Leitch tells The Post. “Where can you lock down 10 blocks of downtown London? Nowhere.”
What Leitch and his team did instead was film isolated moments — a left turn here, an explosion there — in smaller sections of the neighborhood, called “The City,” in order to ensure iconic architecture, such as the Gherkin skyscraper, got screen time. The longer, sustained stunts were then shot in Glasgow, Scotland, which has a similar look to the English metropolis.
How do you film even part of a daytime chase in a city as big and bustling as London?
According to Leitch, a key to urban chases, such as in his other film “John Wick,” is choosing an area where a lot of 9-to-5ers work, and then move in on their days off.
“On weekends, it’s a little more of a ghost town,” he says. “There’s not a lot going on.”
That changed when “Hobbs & Shaw” showed up. The team, led by second unit director Simon Crane, shot for two weekends in London, with a cop and production assistant stationed on every corner to ensure safety. A trio of experienced stunt drivers then got behind the wheels of three identical McLarens — two of which had to be returned to the lot without so much as a scratch.
“They’re not a mass production company,” the director says of the luxe car manufacturer. “And the problem was we only had three. Two of them were ones we really couldn’t mess with. And one we could really put in harm’s way.”
There were also three motorcycle drivers for the sent-from-the-future bike. That hog, ridden by Idris Elba’s villainous Brixton, is a blend of practical machinery and CGI, for when the movie needs to break the laws of physics.
For the most part, you’re not seeing Johnson and Statham burning much rubber in the film. But during an equally perilous Ukraine warehouse chase, eagle-eyed audiences will spot the real Statham do his own stunts at certain moments.
“It’s Jason driving,” Leitch says of the British actor who has a background in stuntwork. “Because he’s so good, we felt comfortable putting him in that position.”