5 Things

April 2, 2015

Best Car Chases in Cinema History

In honor of the release of Furious 7 , I thought it was a good idea to develop a companion piece to go with my last article, discussing Cinema’s best car movies. So today we are going to take a look at some of the best car chases in cinema history.

There have been some mesmerizing ones in many action and thriller movies throughout the years. From that seemingly magical Volkswagen beetle that appeared numerous times in the car chase in ‘Bullit’ to Kurt Russell desperately trying to escape from three vengeful women in the grindhouse flick ‘Death Proof’, it will be a difficult choice to pick from but let’s give it a shot!


The 007 movies have been loaded with many vehicular chases throughout the last five decades but the chase scene featuring Bond commandeering a tank to rescue the formulaic damsel in distress in ‘Goldeneye’ stands out in particular. While the movie itself left a lot to be desired for me, the tank chase is probably one of the scenes this film is remembered best for. 007 does not beat around the bush while flattening cars of the Russian authority and causing expansive amounts of damage to his surroundings. The chase ends in explosive fashion that culminates in a tense encounter between Bond and his old friend turned rogue, Trevalyan.

‘Smokey and the Bandit’

The whole movie is almost one long car chase but Burt Reynolds trying to escape from Sheriff Buford T. Justice by successfully jumping over a bridge in slow motion was particularly amazing for its time. Some folk may think the jump into the football field, which took place later on in the film, was better but it really is a toss up. Those that are politically correct may find the conclusion quite offensive when Justice makes a rather racist remark regarding a fellow black officer, but its one of them situations that can be blamed simply on the era in which it was produced.


It has to be confessed that this film has not been seen by this writer but you can be rest assured that does not mean that I have not seen the famous car chase several times. Perhaps best known for the Volkswagen Beetle that Steve McQueen drives past more than once, what also sets this chase apart from others is that there are interchanges in that the viewer is almost literally placed in the car with both the hero and the villain as we feel every bump when we are cruising at high speeds through the steep hills of San Francisco. There are no great stunts here except perhaps for the conclusion. Just simply smoking rubber against granite.

‘The Italian Job’

This is a movie that is actually best known for its car chase more than anything else. Starring Michael Caine, him and a few of his pals get the idea to rob Italy of its gold supply using three Mini Coopers. The film spends its first hour with the crew practicing for the heist with some hilarious results, but its when they go on their escape after the robbery is complete is when the fun starts. Unfortunately the movie ends with a cliffhanger (visually, too) that has never been resolved but it does make for thought provoking discussions with your family and friends should you watch this action comedy flick.

‘The Road Warrior’

It was difficult to choose which car chase to use from the ‘Mad Max’ trilogy. It was either the climactic car chase in the original or the truck/car chase from ‘Mad Max 2: Road Warrior’. Well, the latter is more spectacular, isn’t it? Containing just as much tension as its predecessor except with a much bigger scope the whole thing is virtually a vehicle stunt show. Personally, I think the villain’s demise in the first film evokes more emotion but that is a small sacrifice for what the viewer visually gets when they watch the sequel. I cant wait for the return of this franchise later this summer with ‘Mad Max: Fury Road‘. Check out the trailer here!

‘Death Proof’

Originally paired with another ‘Grindhouse’ picture, ‘Planet Terror’, ‘Death Proof’ is a film that is not as fun as its next of kin but it is well worth the wait to see its major car chase. It has been said that Quentin Tarantino writes terrific dialogue but the ‘Grindhouse’ feeling was largely missing while watching this movie. It is a good thing then that was reinstated for the vehicular battle between Russell’s Stuntman Mike and the three girls who are desperate to get revenge after we see him scaring the pants off them on the desolate roads. Special mention should go to stunt woman Zoe Bell, playing herself, for the incredible adrenaline inducing hood stunt which may make it a difficult choice to decide which was better.

‘The Rock’

Back when Nicolas Cage was relevant and Sean Connery could still prove that he could do high octane action movies, San Francisco became the setting once again for ‘The Rock’s five minute car chase. But where as in ‘Bullit’ the chase was rather “clean” director Michael Bay amped up the ante by making a mess of the city as ex-con Mason, played by Connery, tries to get away from Cage’s Stanley Goodspeed. Probably not the best movie car chase out there but the film is choc full of various classic action set pieces and it seems that its car chase is something that is mentioned often by movie goers.

About the Author

Lee Skavydis
Lee Skavydis
I am a die hard movie fan, owning over 500 movies on both DVD and Blu Ray. I try to go to the cinema at least once a week when time permits. My other hobbies include following fight sports such as boxing, travelling around, writing and editing, listening to heavy rock and cook the odd occasional recipe. I used to write for several prolific boxing websites, interviewing some of the most famous names associated with the sport around.


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