The darkest day in Manchester’s recent history is getting the Hollywood treatment when action superstar Jason Statham filmed The Detonatorist in the city centre on Monday.
According to Hollywood industry bible Variety Statham will play Blade Gunnage, a mancunian ex-army tank driver turned maverick lone wolf fire fighter who, still distraught over a life he didn’t save, finds himself caught up in the games of an IRA terrorist plotting to blow up the city.
“He’s a firefighter first, a tank driver second and a hero third,” explained Fiona Slapentickle, the film’s producer. “When we first meet Gunnage he’s fighting fire with his bare hands.”
GM Fire & Rescue acknowledged Statham has been training with them in the city for the last month to prepare for his role. Having joined them on 999 calls and also visited schools to caution against playing with matches.
Gravity star and Oscar winner Sandra Bullock is due in the city in the coming weeks to film her role as a Marks & Spencer employee helping Gunnage to halt the terrorist. “Sandra’s character is a no-nonsense mother of five,” said Slapentickle. “She realises that her city is in danger and is having none of it. For the film she trained in hand to hand combat and how to use a till.”
EastEnders star Danny Dyer sent Twitter into a meltdown last month after tweeting he was having Irish dialect coaching fuelling rumours he’ll join Statham on screen as the IRA bomber targeting the city.
“When we first meet Gunnage he’s actually fighting fire with fire.”
Omar Felch, who shot to fame with the low budget LGBT horror The Mincer before helming Oscar nominated Tipetty-Tap about a tap dancer who loses both his feet in a kite flying accident, will direct The Detonatorist
“What happened in 1997 is Manchester’s 9/11,” said Felch. “Hopefully our movie will stay true to that day but with an ever so slight creative licence to give an immersive action film.”
But not everyone is happy to see the city the focus of Hollywood. Owners of the Beetham Tower rejected a request to cloak the entire tower in blue cloth to aid its CGI removal from the skyline. Metrolink also refused to stop building works near the bombing sight forcing production to sound stages at the nearby Mediacityuk for certain scenes.
Manchester Council said they had granted permission for a Parkour chase across the town hall roof and allowed a gun fight in Piccadilly Gardens. Heavy traffic disruption was also advised in the coming weeks on Deansgate because of closures so they could film a major chase scene between a tank and a helicopter.
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