The Gray Man is reportedly Netflix’s biggest budget original film, with a budget of $250 million. It debuted on Netflix on July 22, 2022. The film is a cinematic adaptation of Mark Greaney’s novel of the same name and features stunning footage throughout Prague. Filming in Prague began on June 27, 2021, and ended on July 31, 2021. Ryan Gosling, Chris Evans, Ana de Armas, and Billy Bob Thornton all portray spies caught up in some rather generic globe-trotting plot to recover a flashdrive – the modern-day equivalent of Cold War–era microfilm.
Filming locations included Karlín, and then proceeded downtown. Shooting scenes took place around the Futurama office complex on Za Invalidovnou Street, as well as around the school at Lyčkovo náměstí and Pernerova streets. It also includes Pernerova Street, Šaldova, Křižíkova, Lyčkovo nám., Kaizlovy sady, Sokolovská, Sovova, and Kubova streets.
Brothers Joe and Anthony Russo, the filmmakers behind Avengers: Endgame, one of the top three highest-grossing movies of all time, have filmed a Mission Impossible / James Bond style film in Prague. The Gray Man is a globe-trotting adventure that follows a top CIA agent who is hunted down by his ex-colleague for uncovering agency secrets.
The trailer for The Gray Man shows about 15 seconds of Ryan Gosling riding on a high-speed tram barreling through the city center. For this, a custom-made prop was used instead of an operational Prague tram. The tram route however, does not make sense to anyone who has ever ridden on a Prague tram. The tram is identified as the 11 route headed to “Vozovna Bohnice.” The tram goes past Veletržní palác?
The tram route in the film includes scenes in náměstí Jana Palacha, crosses the Vltava over Čechův most, the street Dukelských hrdinů in Prague 7, and the National Gallery’s Veletržní palác, and then a jump to náměstí Republiky, with a bank building getting some damage and Obecní dům popping up in the background. It ends up in flames outside Prague’s Municipal House at Náměstí Republiky. In reality, the 11 tram runs nowhere near the film’s itinerary — but it’s the movies!
The damaged bank pillars were actually filmed elsewhere on a replica.
No actual damage occurred to any of the landmarks — thank God!
In fact, the tram was modified to have a flat top so people could walk on top. Prague Public Transit Company DPP spokeswoman Aneta Řehková said it was actually made specifically for the film. It was built from spare parts of damaged trams. While it has the look of a 14T tram but it did not run on electric power. The spare parts were actually glued onto a truck chassis so it never really attached to the tracks at all. This let the “tram” run on its own power.
You can see the wheels in this 15 second clip…
Live electric overhead cables would have been too dangerous for the stunt people running around the top of the tram. It also allowed the tram to move outside the standard tracks during the action.
In this video, the Russo brothers break down the massive Prague action set piece from inception to screen…
Using the central streets and intricate tramways of Prague would usually be a tricky task for any Hollywood film crew, however, for Joe and Anthony Russo, the pandemic actually helped them to utilize the stunning city scenery.
Usually extremely crowded, the duo were able to make the most of the central capital space during the pandemic, filming an explosive sequence that involves a high-speed tram, without the hassle of the everyday general public because many of these filming locations are prime tourist attractions and are usually packed with people.
Prague’s city center and Průhonice, Smíchov, Žižkov, Holešovice, and Karlín are among the exotic European locations featured in the film. Outside of Prague, filming also took place in Milovice and Labem in the Czech Republic.
Despite being a major Hollywood release from Netflix, the filmmakers behind the new action movie opted to use a sparing amount of CGI, deciding instead to shoot the action in the actual streets using real stunts.
The filmmakers also took care to avoid any damage to the historical city.
To do this they built an entire city square in the middle of town, including a fountain center-piece, just so they could destroy the space as they saw fit, avoiding any damage to the historical city yet keeping it real and destroying the space as per the action demands of the film. (I was so happy to have discovered that it was built to be destroyed because as I watched the movie I kept worrying that they were destroying Prague!)
Here are a couple of videos showing the action scenes being filmed…
And the scenes from the other countries? Well, many of them were filmed in Prague as well. Prague is both itself and Bangkok, Baku, Berlin, and Vienna.
The Bangkok scene was actually the Futurama office complex at Sokolovská 663/136c, 186 00 Praha 8-Karlín.
When they are in Baku, Azerbaijan, (about 25 minutes into the film) what we’re seeing is the National Monument on top of Vítkov Hill . It appears during an elaborate funeral scene, with Baku’s steel-and-glass flame towers superimposed in the background.
When they are in Vienna, (about 42 minutes into the film) we see some actual Vienna footage mixed in with Prague Prague, making it difficult to tell which is which, However, the overhead view of the Vienna rail station is actually Prague’s Hlavní nádraží in an altered version of the view from the railing at Vinohradská Street.
The rather ornate school at Lyčkovo náměstí in Karlín can be seen clearly at the start of the Vienna sequence. Later, a car ride through Vienna takes us on a circuitous route around the same square. The Vienna scene ends with the car making a turn at the intersection of Lyčkovo náměstí and Křižíkova Street.
There is a briefly seen concrete staircase and wooden planks seem to match the rooftop at Lucerna, with the top of the Old Town Hall tower in the background.
When they are supposed to be in Berlin, they’re actually filming the New Building of the National Museum in Prague.
Prague finally starts to play itself at about an hour into the film.
We see a shot of Charles Bridge and then the action moves to a hillside street in Žižkov, where we see the round-windowed building at Kostnické náměstí. The Art Nouveau-style round window, was CGI fused on top of the nice but somewhat typical pre-war residential building.
For orientation, the closest landmark is the Jára Cimrman Žižkov Theater (Žižkovské divadlo Járy Cimrmana).
The action quickly moves to what the film calls the “opera house,” and we are finally at the big action scene filmed in front of the Rudolfinum.
We can see UMPRUM (Academy of Arts, Architecture and Design in Prague) dressed up as a restaurant.
Of course, no film set in Prague goes without at least a momentary glimpse at the Prague castle. We see it in this film 82 minutes into the story, briefly lit up on the horizon at night.
The last identifiable Prague location is the Negrelli Viaduct, where the Prague action segment finally ends.
This Asian woman captured some incredible footage in her video…
The scenes set in Croatia were not filmed in the Czech Republic. That is a mix of a castle in Croatia and the Chateau de Chantilly, near Paris. The Hong Kong and Turkey scenes, with palm trees in the background, were filmed near Los Angeles.
Finally, here is a featurette about the making of the film…
The plot is clichéd, but the Russo brothers deliver a film packed with action, charismatic actors and beautiful locations. The film’s action sequences truly are a spectacle to say the least, but the storyline, i felt, was just trying much too hard. It’s not gotten the best reviews, but it is worth seeing for all of the Prague locations.
You can watch this film on Netflix now.
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