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The truth about those parkour scenes in 6 Underground - Exclusive

6 Underground, the new Netflix movie from action maestro Michael Bay, is full of car crashes, gunfights, and explosions, but it's the film's parkour sequences that have everyone talking.

In 6 Underground, Ryan Reynolds stars as One, a mysterious billionaire who, fed up with government inaction, fakes his own death and uses his fortune to fund his own black ops strike team. Every member of One's squad has a unique skillset. Seven, for example, is a former military sniper. Five is a doctor. Four, played by Ben Hardy, is both a reformed thief and a parkour master.

Whether Four is leading a dictator's goons on a thrilling chase across Hong Kong skyscrapers or sliding down the side of Florence's historic Duomo — a scene that was filmed on-location on the roof of the actual cathedral — his action beats stand out as some of the best in the entire film. But what makes the stunts look so good? Looper talked to Toby Segar, a member of the parkour collective Storror, which did the freerunning stunts in 6 Underground, to find out.

They're real, and they're spectacular

"6 Underground looks the most legit of any movie I've seen before, because the stuff's really happening," Segar says. "The jumps are real."

Yes, the crew took safety precautions. The Storror members wore cables during dangerous jumps, and there were boxes off-camera to help break their falls if something went wrong. However, none of those affected the actual movements. "The wires aren't influencing the movement," Segar says. "Gaps aren't being made double the size with a computer. They're really happening how you see it."

In fact, Segar estimates that about 90% of the jumps and stunts in 6 Underground were untouched by CGI. For the most part, when computers were used, they enhanced the action, but didn't create it. "CGI put [some] jumps higher up in the air," Segar explains, but the stunts still happened — they just weren't quite as dangerous in real life.

As an example, Segar calls out a sequence set in Hong Kong, when Four runs down a skyscraper to escape approaching goons. That sequence was handled by Storror's Drew Taylor, who served as one of Ben Hardy's two stunt doubles alongside fellow Storror member Benj Cave.

"Four is trying to escape and doing some jumps across the tops of really big I-beams," Segar says. "Drew was doing those plyos 30, 40 feet up in the air... Those little pads that he was jumping to are super thin, super small, and technical. There's a foley explosion going off behind him."

To Segar's expert eyes, it's the most challenging sequence in the film. "There was no true danger at any point," Segar says, but "keeping your cool at that height, doing take after take, with explosions and guns firing blanks all around you" takes quite a bit of effort.

Segar credits Bay's faithful editing with helping make 6 Underground's parkour scenes feel realistic, too. "It's just so awesome for us... to not see the movement butchered in post-production," Segar explains. "It's one of the first times that's happened for us. It's just absolutely awesome."

A creative force to be reckoned with

Storror knows a little bit about filmmaking themselves. While members of the group have appeared in films like Doctor Strange and Mary Poppins Returns, their bread and butter is the Storror YouTube channel, which has over five million subscribers. Storror posts two videos each week, and the group has filmed two feature-length documentaries: one set in Thailand, the other in Hong Kong and Tokyo.

In fact, it was Storror's video work that initially caught Michael Bay's attention. "Michael Bay saw one of the point-of-view videos that we shot in Hong Kong," Segar says, "and got a team to get in touch right away."

While Segar himself only has a small role in the film, every member of Storror helped design 6 Underground's thrilling parkour sequences. "We were given the location, we'd go and scout them, and essentially put forward what we would be able to do in those spaces," Segar says. Bay pulled clips from Storror's videos to show the kind of stunt that he wanted, and the parkour artists worked with the filmmaking team to bring the action to life.

Bay even let Storror's resident cameraman, Sacha Powell, film some hand-held parkour shots, many of which appeared in the final film. "Sacha is an incredible filmmaker," Segar says, "and Michael was just great about it. He loved what we did... We were just over the moon that he was so up for getting us on board."

Friendship is magic

Segar credits Storror's success to the friendship between his teammates. "It's the bond, that friendship, that kind of brotherhood," Segar says. "If that isn't there, people recognize that. People can tell."

That camaraderie helps on movie sets, too. "When it comes down to working with production teams, working with people like Michael Bay... a massive part of the appeal was the fact that if they put us anywhere as a team, we'll get things done a lot quicker," Segar says.

Not that there's no room for others, of course. While filming 6 Underground, Taylor and Cave trained Ben Hardy in the basics of parkour. "The physicality of it is actually a lot easier to pick up once you get your head in the right space," Segar explains. "Ben Hardy picked that up perfectly... I've seen a few interviews with him where he describes the essence of parkour brilliantly. I'm assuming that's based on the time he spent with Benj and Drew." 

Of course, Storror still ended up performing most of 6 Underground's parkour stunts. When you're doing moves like that, it's best to leave as much as possible to the pros.