With Fast and the Furious 6 storming into the theaters, the franchise continues its envelope-pushing efforts to redefine the movie chase scene. Action movies run the gamut when it comes to how they get the adrenaline going for their audience, but there is something truly special and heart pounding about the cinematic auto-driven chase.
In honor of Fast and Furious 6, Movie Fanatic presents our Top 10 Movie Car Chases!
10. Terminator 2: Judgment Day
What begins as Edward Furlong’s John Connor taking his motor bike out for a joyride winds up being the race for his life as Robert Patrick’s icy Terminator hunts him down at any cost with Arnold Schwarzenegger chasing them both on his own motorcycle. As everyone knows, in Terminator 2: Judgment Day, Arnold’s Terminator has been sent back to protect John from the new Terminator and as Schwarzenegger, Patrick and Furlong veer through Los Angeles, heart rates rise.
9. The Blues Brothers
Leaping from the stage of Saturday Night Live in 1980, The Blues Brothers got behind the wheel of a film that would become an instant classic. John Landis also had the gall to direct a scene that features our titular anti-heroes racing away from the cops that closes with more cars crashed together (except the Blues Brothers of course!) than had ever been seen prior.
8. The Town
Ben Affleck showed he was a good director with Gone, Baby, Gone. But, the Argo helmer could really show his mettle by orchestrating the car chase at the heart of his 2010 flick The Town. Anyone who has driven on the streets of Boston knows how difficult it is under normal circumstances. But, when eluding the police after robbing a bank… getting away successfully is one incredible feat.
7. The Road Warrior
In 1981 the sequel to Mad Max landed in theaters and made Mel Gibson a star. It also gave us one of the best car chases in movie history. The nearly 20-minute scene closes out The Road Warrior and set the standard for the decade that would see many, many car chases chase what director George Miller accomplished in the Australian actioner.
6. The Bourne Legacy
Karl Urban and Matt Damon wreaking havoc in Russia had to be on this list. There are so many chase scenes to choose from in the Bourne franchise, but for Movie Fanatic, Urban and Damon’s vehicular dance is the best.
5. The Fast and Furious 6
The first true chase scene in The Fast and the Furious 6 takes place on the streets of London -- not exactly the best city thoroughfares for racing, right?! Dwayne Johnson has gathered the Fast and Furious team to help bring down the baddest of the bad guys and when they get clued into where he’s going to be… his attempted capture sets off one of the most dazzling car chases ever seen.
In fact, it may also be one of the most explosive action sequences… period. Even it being teased in the Fast and Furious 6 trailer will get you going.
Equipped with the “best” cars the government can have by the road racers, Paul Walker and Diesel, along with their gang of gear heads do their best to avoid double-decker buses, traffic, pedestrians… all while trying to avoid running into the monster machine that our villain is piloting.
4. The French Connection
As Movie Fanatic has talked to directors over the years who have themselves crafted car chases (such as our chat with the helmer of A Good Day to Die Hard John Moore), the 1971 scene in The French Connection is often mentioned as an inspiration.
The sight of Gene Hackman racing under that bridge, ever so determined to catch up to the man he has been seeking, is beyond thrilling. The way director William Friedkin takes his audience along for the ride while simultaneously giving his star the chance to powerfully emote his ever-revving determination, is nothing short of a cinematic miracle.
3. To Live and Die in L.A.
One of my favorite movies of all time is 1985’s To Live and Die in L.A. That is largely due to the fact that director Friedkin took what he learned on The French Connection and took it to the traffic-riddled streets of Los Angeles.
William Peterson and John Pankow are pursuing a master counterfeiter (Willem Dafoe) and as part of their investigation they wind up chasing a suspect driving the wrong way on the freeways of L.A. Yes, you read that right… a car chase scene featuring cars pursuing each other on the matrix that is the busy highways of Los Angeles.
The car chase in 1968’s Bullitt with Steve McQueen is so resonant, that there is even a tour in San Francisco showing fans where it was that McQueen drove his 1968 Ford Mustang around like a maniac. That Mustang is also one of our Top 10 Movie Cars!
Careening through the streets of Europe, Jean Reno and Robert De Niro took the movie chase scene and upped the ante in Ronin. This is our absolute favorite because director John Frankenheimer went back to basics to in fact achieve the opposite.
After being a pioneer in the car chase choreographing world with his 1966 film Grand Prix, he used his same revolutionary methods and added decades of experience and film technology to once again set the bar for car chases in cinema.
Honorable mentions: Death Proof, The Fast and Furious, Gone in 60 Seconds (1974), Grand Prix, The Italian Job (both films), Drive and The Dark Knight.