Fast And Furious | 2009
Number four in the serious gets seriously stripped down, losing those extraneous definite articles. This is also where the F&F timeline starts to go askew, with the franchise reverting to pre-Tokyo Drift events (presumably to bring back Han).
Most of the 85-day shoot was spent on location around Los Angeles, with studio work in Sylmar and Culver City.
Dom (Vin Diesel) and Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) have built a new life south of the border in the ‘Dominican Republic’ and the opening sequence sees them lead a team of racers in the heist of a fuel-heavy land train: “Down here, gas is gold!”
The tankers were filmed racing along Templin Highway, the winding mountainous road to the north of LA, connecting Interstate 5 with the north end of Castaic Lake, a few miles north of Castaic.
At a post-heist celebration, Toretto learns the law in on his trail and quietly slips away. The torch-lit, hip-swingin’ beach party was filmed on the coast near San Pedro, south of Los Angeles.
Back in LA proper, Brian O'Conner (Paul Walker) has been re-instated and is chasing some ne’er-do-well, with tatts and a black singlet, across the rooftop of what was then an old warehouse south of East 7th Street, between South Central Avenue and South Alameda Street. The jumpable gaps between separate roofs were added digitally.
In the years since filming, the area has become gentrified into the Downtown Arts District.
Once the bad guy scuttles down to ground level and bursts out onto the street, he’s a few miles northwest in Koreatown, running south down Normandie Avenue from West 8th Street to 811 Normandie Avenue where, followed by O’Conner, he scrambles over a fence.
He frantically makes his way past the rear of China Express and the other businesses on 8th Street toward Irolo Street, where the parking lot was transformed into a street market and where O’Conner apprehends him.
Once back at ‘FBI HQ’, the felon gives up the name of David Park, who recruits street racers for the drug cartel run by a mysterious kingpin Arturo Braga.
In fact, the HQ is the Hall of Administration of the former Ambassador College, at 310 West Green Street, in Pasadena.
Founded in 1947 by evangelical radio personality Herbert W Armstrong, Ambassador College closed in 1997 with part of the campus becoming Maranatha High School and more more converted into the Ambassador Mansion & Gardens, a mixed-use complex. Many of the buildings have been (or are scheduled to be) demolished – including the Hall of Administration.
The site has been regularly used for filming, in movies including A Single Man, Inherent Vice and That Thing You Do!, as well as TV shows such as The Incredible Hulk, Bones and Leverage.
After receiving a phone call informing him that Letty has been killed, Toretto now heads clandestinely back to LA.
He watches from a distance Letty’s funeral, at Sunnyside Cemetery, 1095 East Willow Street, between California and Orange Avenues in Long Beach.
In 1921, oil was discovered in the area and oil derricks, known as nodding donkeys, to the north of the cemetery now provide a striking background for such productions as 8MM, Click and Phantasm II.
With his old house likely to be under surveillance, Toretto visits furtively to check that his beloved Dodge Charger is still in the garage. The film uses the same property at 722 East Kensington Road near Echo Park but had to recreate meticulously the garage which new owners had torn down.
After a visit to the site where Letty died, Toretto realises that the car involved used nitro-meth, sold by only one guy in LA. He heads off to question the supplier, who also names David Park. The garage is the rear of the business premises which used to stand on South Anderson Street, in East Los Angeles, beneath the eastern entrance to the, now demolished, Sixth Street Bridge.
O'Conner thumbs through files on dozens of David Parks as he grabs a bite to eat in his car, parked in the lot in front of Quick Stop Liquor, 5102 Hollywood Boulevard, at Normandie Avenue, in East Hollywood’s Thai Town district.
The diner in which O’Conner has a face to face with ex-flame and Toretto’s sister Mia (Jordana Brewster) is called ‘Ida’s Place’, but since there’s no such establishment in LA and the name of the film’s Production Designer is Ida Random, I think we can assume this is a set.
With both O’Conner and Toretto on his case, it’s Park’s bad luck that Toretto gets a slight lead and is already dangling the hapless minion from an upstairs window when O’Conner arrives.
The roof sign of Park’s apartment building claims it’s the ‘Stratford Hotel’, though it’s now a private condo, 2619 West 8th Street at Hoover Street west of MacArthur Park.
From Park they learn that there’s to be a street race to find a new driver for the cartel. Who but Brian O’Conner would be ideal to go undercover and enter the race? And who but Dom Toretto would go up against him to track down the killer of Lettie?
The potential drivers meet up at the Aroma Golf Range, 3680 Wilshire Boulevard, Midtown, an indoor driving range. You can see the multi-storey range and the protective netting, which keeps parked cars from getting dented, on South Serrano Avenue. Braga’s right hand man, Campos (John Ortiz) sets the rules – there are to be no streets closed this time.
You won’t be able to follow the route of the chase even at a sedately legal pace – it’s a mash up of locations largely around the downtown area.
As soon as the cars roar out of the golf range car park, they’re instantly rocketing north on North Spring Street in Chinatown, way to the east, towards the exotic green canopy of Chinatown Metro Station on West College Street.
Yet it’s a block to the south, beneath the curve of the elevated metro line, that the unexpected right turn from Alpine Street into Alameda Street results in a multiple pile-up.
The narrow alleyway through which O’Conner takes a short cut, runs from South San Pedro Street to Crocker Street, parallel to East 7th Street, Downtown.
“Re-routing” sends O’Conner south on Beacon Street, way down south in San Pedro. When the navigation system politely suggests a polite “u-turn if possible”, he plunges down the grass bank to South Harbour Boulevard.
Instantly back north of Downtown, where the yellow car careers from a raised stretch of West 1st Street onto North Toluca Street, narrowly missing O’Conner.
The race ends on South Mission Road beneath what was the eastern end of the old Sixth Street Bridge, where Toretto pips O’Conner at the last minute. The bridge has now gone and the spot doesn’t look nearly so photogenic.
Undeterred, O’Conner sets up a bogus meth raid on the home of Dwight, one of the other chosen drivers. The apartment of the gobby blond cowboy is 1820 North La Brea Avenue, just north of Franklin Avenue in Hollywood.
With Dwight now out, O’Conner steps into the breach and turns up for Braga’s street party in front of the Nate Starkman Building, 544 Mateo Street, at Palmetto Street, back in the Arts District just a few blocks northeast of the warehouses used for the opening roof chase. You can still see the name of the old company painted across the front of the building, which is another screen regular, used as Nicolas Cage’s apartment, raided by Harvey Keitel in National Treasure.
The job is a drugs run down to 'Mexico', from which it’s intended the drivers will not be returning. The dusty flats leading to the border ‘tunnel’ are Antelope Valley’s Acton and Canyon County.
Unsurprisingly, O’Conner and Toretto avoid their intended fate and manage to make it back to LA. A meeting with Braga, seemingly beneath the Vincent Thomas Bridge in San Pedro, is botched when Agent Stasiak (Shea Whigham) jumps the gun, allowing the crime lord to escape.
Toretto and O’Conner go off the grid to follow Braga to Mexico and, this time it’s the real thing. The town where they catch up with him is Magdalena de Kino, in the Sonora region.
The church, where Toretto has to decide whether to administer summary justice or take back Braga for trial in the US, can be seen on Presbítero Jaime Salcido in the Fatima district.