visit the film locations
Visit: Pann’s Cafe, 6710 La Tijera Boulevard at La Cienega Boulevards and Centinella Avenue, Baldwin Hills (tel: 310.337.2860)
Flights: Prague Ruzyne Airport
Tourism: Prague Tourist Information
Visit: the Vranov nad Dyji State Chateau, 671 03 Vranov nad Dyji (tel 420.515.296.215), in the Znojmo district
XXX location: Xander Cage faces a test from Augustus Gibbon: Pann’s Cafe, La Tijera Boulevard, Baldwin Hills, Los Angeles
Director Rob Cohen signals his intentions early on, offing a smoothly tuxedoed secret agent at a Rammstein gig. Time for a new breed of hero, as extreme sportster Xander Cage (Vin Diesel) is unwillingly recruited as a superagent for the 21st century. I can’t help feeling, though, that Bond has a bit more life left in him.
Cage demonstrates attitude, with a live webcast as he steals the Corvette of tightass Senator Dick from the country club at Westlake Village, north of Malibu. No crime of profit, of course. Cage is teaching the no-fun politician a lesson, and catapults the motor off a bridge.
It was a long drive. You’ll find Foresthill Bridge spanning the North Fork of the American River in Auburn, northeast of Sacramento, northern California. A breathtaking 728 feet above the river – plans to flood the valley were never brought to completion – allows Cage’s spectacular base jump.
Unwittingly sussed out as a potential recruit, Cage faces a test from Augustus Gibbons (Samuel L Jackson) in Pann’s Cafe, 6710 La Tijera Boulevard at La Cienega Boulevards and Centinella Avenue, in Baldwin Hills, a classic Fifties coffee shop. Built in 1958, it was restored in 1991 and is now rightly recognised as an LA landmark. You can see it again in Nora Ephron’s 2005 big screen version of TV favourite Bewitched, with Nicole Kidman.
The next test finds Cage facing that old favourite, a vicious Central American drug lord. The ‘Colombian’ drug plantation was built at Lake Piru, north of Los Angeles.
The real mission takes Cage to Prague in the Czech Republic, where he stays on Liliova Street in Staré Mesto (the Old Town). No martinis or roulette wheels here.
The front for ‘Anarchy 99’, bent on the destruction of life as we know it, is a string of rave clubs, but you needn’t go looking for them.
The nightclub of the opening scene was a de-sanctified, 150-year-old church in Celna, in the eastern Czech Republic; while the Orbital techno rave was staged in an electronic testing station to the north of Prague.
‘Anarchy 99’s fortified HQ is real enough. It’s the Vranov nad Dyji State Chateau, 671 03 Vranov nad Dyji, in the Znojmo district (the magic of FX moves it into the mountains north of Prague). There’s been a castle on the site since 1100, though much of the present building dates from 1665, and it’s open for tours.
Back in Prague itself, the vaulted basement of the abandoned Patanka Brewery became the Czech police HQ.
One place you will want to visit is the magnificent art nouveau restaurant, in which Cage reveals to Yelena (Asia Argento) he’s a secret agent. It’s the Francouzska Restaurace (French Restaurant) of the recently restored Obecni Dum (Municipal House), Námestí Republiky 5. One of the most striking Art Nouveau buildings in Prague, the unimaginatively-named Municipal House is used to host conventions, concerts, balls and fashion shows.
XXX location: Xander Cage is bundled off to meet up with Gibbons: Estates Theatre, Zelezna Street, Prague
Escaping an assassination attempt, Cage is bundled off to meet up with Gibbons in the Estates Theatre (formerly the Tyl Theatre), Zelezna ulice 11 (Zelezna Street) at Havirska Street – the historic theatre that’s featured in Oscar-winning Amadeus. The exterior that’s seen, though, is the Rudolfinium, Palachovo namesti 1 (1 Jan Palach Square), home of the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra, which you might also recognise as the ‘London’ club in fantasy adventure The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.
The climax is staged on the Vltava River, where stuntman Harry O’Connor was tragically killed flying into the Palacky Bridge during a retake of the parascending stunt.
Gibbons watches from Karluv Most (the Charles Bridge, seen in Mission: Impossible and Van Helsing) as Cage disarms Anarchy’s dastardly device.
Some of the stunt work was filmed elsewhere: sky surfing above Lake Tahoe, northern California; and the snowmobiles and snowboarding at Kaunertal in the Austrian Tyrol.