Furious 7 has demolished all expectations at the box-office this month. After taking in nearly $150 million in its opening weekend, it is set to surpass $300 million this coming weekend. And that’s just in the U.S. Between that and the expected success of the May 15th release of Mad Max: Fury Road, 2015 is shaping up to be a banner year for films featuring insanely ridiculous, death-defying car chases.
With that in mind we thought it would be fun to list some of our favorite car chase scenes of all time. Here we go!
What’s one of the most clichéd things in cinema? That would be car chases. If a movie contains any amount of action, you’re pretty much guaranteed a car chase. Frozen even had one (well, I guess it was a sled-chase). Now sometimes the plot makes sense to include one, but all too often I feel like they are just thrown in with no real purpose and the majority of them are not memorable. With all that said, I don’t always dislike them. A few that came to mind were the highway scene in Matrix Reloaded and the speeder chase in Return of the Jedi. The one I settled on however is the foot/semi/hover bike chase scene from The Island. It starts out on foot, but the two main characters hop onto a flat-bed semi loaded up with train axles. Needless to say, the axles don’t stay on the truck for long and result in a lot of destroyed cars. The last portion of the chase involves hover bikes, which someone really needs to get busy creating. The scene shows off the futuristic city and ends with them crashing through a skyscraper. Leave it to Michael Bay to do an over the top chase scene and that is one of my favorites.
There’s so much about The Bourne Identity that works well. A big part of it is that despite the film’s somewhat fantastical premise, it tries really hard to bring the story down to earth in a tangible way. This is rarely more apparent than in the Paris chase scene. How many times have you sat in your car wondering, “How well would this thing do in a car chase?” That’s what makes this scene work. Instead of taking place with fancy Italian cars I’ll probably never sit in, this scene makes me feel like I’m right there in the midst of it.
Also, Mini Coopers are awesome.
If you Google “best car chase scenes” you’ll find a host of entries from the 1960’s and 70’s. The likes of Smokey and the Bandit, Vanishing Point and The French Connection to name a few. I’ll admit up front, I’m not a big fan of those. While I haven’t seen all the most popular chases of this age, what I have seen seems to suffer from a combination of poor editing, low stakes or low speeds. But, I can appreciate the difficulty in pulling off a compelling chase without the aid of CGI as many of today’s modern chases tend to over-use. There is one film that I think strikes a great balance between a classical approach to the chase while keep the stakes, and the speeds, quite high. That is 1998’s Ronin. My favorite aspect of the chase in the video below is that, if you watch closely, you’ll notice De Niro’s car finding openings in the chaos initially caused by the vehicle he’s chasing. That’s a testament to terrific stunt driving as well as terrific directing of the chase. Check it out!
My favorite chase scene comes from The Dark Knight. After damage is done to the tumbler, a few levers and buttons are adjusted inside by Batman and out comes the Pod. It’s an amazing cycle-eques piece of equipment that travels quickly and in ways that used to only appear in comic books. Now on the big screen you see this cycle go by through alleys, buildings, and even under semis as he chases down the Joker. A Couple of quick moves lead to a semi flipping end over end. Then the pod, of all things, stands on end and turns around. This is an amazing reveal of the Pod (same awesome bike rode by Catwoman in Rises) with fantastic CGI and explosions in a plus chase. MOST IMPRESSIVE… It’s the Batman.
That’s a small sampling, so what would you add to this list? Please leave your comments below.