Top 10 Car Chases: Watch These Amazing Chase Scenes
The Best Car Chase Scenes of All Time
Fast cars, chaos, flaming wreckage -- chase scenes have it all. This list is all about the best car chases in the history of the movies, from Bullitt to The Italian Job. Some of these action scenes you may recognize, but some are less well-known. The list may start some arguments, too, so if you don't see your pick on the list, then by all means drop me a comment at the end. I also provided a butt-kicking clip from each movie on the list, so don't miss a chance to check them out. Hope you enjoy the mayhem!
Number 10: Vanishing Point (1971)
Old-School Speed and Destruction
How do you make it from Colorado to San Francisco in fifteen hours? It helps to have a supercharged 1970 Dodge Charger and a heavy right foot. And you can be pretty sure you're going to alienate the law enforcement all along the way. This classic flat-out race inspired such worthy long-form chase movies as Smokey and the Bandit and Cannonball Run. But Vanishing Point throws in some strange and wonderful touches, like a a blind DJ named Supersoul, who keeps our hero up to date by listening in on the cops with his own police scanner, and a completely gorgeous, and completely naked, girl on a motorbike. Don't pass this one up just because it's forty years old and you don't come across it every time you turn around -- Vanishing Point is a cult classic.
The Best of Vanishing Point
Number 9: Tomorrow Never Dies (1997)
007 Gives Back-Seat Driving a New Meaning
The plot has something to do with a scheme to start a war between England and China to provide good stories for a sleazy newspaper to cover, but as with any 007 flick the reason we're watching is the action. Pierce Brosnan may not be the most inspiring Bond ever, but the chase scene that begins with him piloting a BMW from the backseat with a remote is pretty bad-ass. There are other fine moments in this scene that redeem the movie. And after awhile you do get used to Brosnan -- at least he's better than Timothy Dalton.
Parking Garage Chase Scene
Number 8: Matrix Reloaded (2003)
A Chase Through Hyper-Reality
Something about the way the cops start to vibrate and freak out just before they turn into agents is truly disturbing, and that sets the scene for this mind-bending chase scene. The rules of reality, which are pretty much always thrown out the window in chase scenes, are completely twisted in this one (and of course in the Matrix movies on general). We can handle the multiple copies of everyone and the slow-motion tumbling van, but when the blonde-dreadlocked machine gun dude turns into a spirit, or whatever, and floats into the back seat for close-quarters combat you know you are watching a one of a kind car chase.
The Matrix Reloaded -- A Truly Messed-Up Highway Chase Scene
Number 7: Gone In 60 Seconds (1974)
The Original (and the Best)
Combine a cool, crooked insurance investigator who doubles as an elite car thief and a 1973 Mustang Fastback and you've got one hell of a chase movie. The main character, Mandrian Pace, is only outclassed by the Fastback, which is codenamed "Eleanor." A five- city car chase highlights this classic chase flick. One of the classic high-speed films of all time.
Number 6: The Bourne Supremacy (2006)
The Invincible Jason Bourne
For pure, jarring, shocking action, this chase is hard to top. Damon is driving a pint-sized taxi through the peaceful streets of Moscow, and either hits or is hit by just about everything possible, including a bullet (the bit where he disinfects the wound with vodka from the bottle he's been carrying since the beginning of the chase -- while driving -- is typical of this anything-goes scene). It doesn't matter that pretty much every car looks like a Fiat Panda.
Number 5: The French Connection (1971)
French Connection Facts
* There isn't any music during the spectacular car chase, but director William Friedkin edited it to match the tempo to the tempo of Carlos Santana's "Black Magic Woman"
* One of the most realistic car crashes in the chase scene is actually real: The smash-up at the intersection of Stillwell Ave. and 86th St. was unplanned and involved the car of a man who had just gone to work and had no idea they were filming a movie on his street. The producers paid for repairs.
* The chase sequence takes place beneath the West End subway line.
* Much of the crowd control on the set was provided by the assistant directors with the help of off-duty NYPD officers -- and several of thiose officers had been involved in the case upon which TFC is based.
* Steve McQueen was offered the chance to star in TFC, but he turned it down. Bullitt: too cool for The French Connection!
The French Connection Trailer
Number 4: The Italian Job(s) (1969/2003)
The Italian Job(s)
One of those rare occasions where a remake gives the original a run for its money. Both movies feature fleets of minis wreaking havoc by chasing each other through places where cars aren't supposed to go, and both rely on controlling traffic signals to confuse the bad guys and steal ridiculous amounts of gold. In the end it basically comes down to which you think is cooler: a helicopter chasing a car into an underground parking garage, or Michael Caine. I wouldn't bet on the helicopter.
One from the original...
The Best Car Chases Number 3: Ronin (1998)
A Seriously Cool Film
Robert DeNiro and French actor Jean Reno try to gain control of a mysterious suitcase (similar to the briefcase in Quentin Tarentino's Pulp Fiction) in Ronin, director John Frankenheimer's attempt to create a modern car chase that would be studied by future directors. Good luck keeping up with the plot , which includes Katerina Witt being shot and wounded in the middle of a full-on ice-skating performance. Just focus on the chase scenes, some of the most beautifully violent and extended car chases ever filmed. The havoc created on the streets of Nice and Paris, as well as through the countryside, must be seen to be believed.
Brutal Car Chase from Ronin
The Best Car Chases Number 2: The Blues Brothers Movie
"We're On a Mission. From God."
Saturday Night Live nut-jobs Dan Akroyd and John Belushi took their characters from a musical skit and turned them into one of the top-grossing movies of all time (as well as one of the top-selling albums, Briefcase Full of Blues). Full of quotable lines and local Chicago flavor, including a righteous musical number set in the heart of Maxwell Street (RIP), The Blues Brothers also includes one of most destructive chase scenes ever filmed. The car-body count of black-and-whites is staggering, as is the deadpan cool with which Jake and Elwood Blues make their way through the insanity. Very funny, and very destructive.
Blues Brothers Mall Chase Scene
The Best Car Chases Number 1: Bullitt's Electrifying Chase Scene
The Greatest Car Chase Ever Filmed
It's not flashy, it's not high-tech, and it sure as hell isn't done with CGI. Bullitt's iconic car chase through the insane ups and downs of the streets of San Francisco rises to the level of pure adrenaline-fueled art by putting you right in the driver's seat and keeping you there. The metal ballet of classic muscle cars flying over steep city streets in hot pursuit of each other has an immediate brute power that has no equal in film.
Bullitt is arguably the first car chase film, and you can see the DNA for nearly all future car chases in its rhythms and rhymes -- for example, the image of a car coming head-on as it crests a hill and getting six feet of air as it goes over, a trope that pops up all of the time in chase scenes, begins here.
For all of the chase sequence's headlong power, the movie itself is measured, dark, and surprisingly laid-back. McQueen plays it cool, almost ice-cold, as he portrays a man who hates police work but is one of the best on the force. He's tense and cranky, and also one of the most compelling anti-heroes of the '60's. Toss in a ground-breaking chase scene, the first of its kind and the forerunner of every other scene on this list, and here's one film that is truly required viewing.
Any top 10 list by nature leaves out some worthy contenders. Here are some that didn't quite make the cut:
* Death Proof
* Fast and Furious
* The Dark Knight
* The Road Warrior
* Armor of God