6 Of The Best Car Chase Films Of All Time
June 29th, 2013 1:00pm EDT
Car enthusiasts everywhere go crazy for explosive, heart-pounding car chases, especially on the big screen. From the classics of past years to more recent movies, car chase scenes have entertained moviegoers for decades. Here are six of the best car chase movies to ever hit the big screen.
Bad Boys II (2003)
Bad Boys II, the sequel to the 1995 film, boasts a car chase that doesn't disappoint. Directed by Michael Bay and produced by Jerry Bruckheimer, the level of explosions in this scene is off of the scale. Will Smith stars as Mike Lowry, a Miami Narcotics Division Detective, and Martin Lawrence stars as Detective Marcus Burns. In this movie, Lower and Burns fight to get ecstasy off the drug market.
Gabrielle Union's character, undercover DEA agent Sydney Burnet, flees a murder and robbery attempt after a sting operation goes awry. In a scene that's funny, dramatic, and violent, Mike gives chase. While Michael Bay may be take a lot of flak for thin plots and thinner characters, the man sure knows how to direct a thrilling set piece. Bad Boys II is one of his best.
Smokey and the Bandit (1977)
This movie has been wildly popular for over 30 years. In fact, Smokey and the Bandit would have ranked as 1977's highest-grossing film had Star Wars not come out in the same year. Burt Reynolds and director Hal Needham team up to create a movie that offers both breathtaking car stunts and Jackie Gleason's spot-on comedy.
Smokey's stunts are forever ingrained into our culture. Even kids from other decades sing the soundtrack's "East Bound and Down." Reynolds and his souped-up ride combine forces with a bride on the run, a beer smuggler, and a pursuing sheriff for a good chase. It’s one of the original summer blockbusters combining the perfect blend of action and comedy that films having been trying to recapture ever since. The chase scenes were also superbly directed making the Reynolds one of the coolest drivers in cinema history.
The French Connection (1971)
The French Connection melds high-speed adrenaline with true cinematic greatness. William Friedkin managed to create a story of a police force and heroin smugglers in NYC that brought home five Oscars, including Best Picture and Best Director. The movie also made a star out of Gene Hackman. Hackman's car chase scene as Detective Jimmy "Popeye" Doyle likely got the film the nod for the Best Picture and Best Director nominations.
In this scene, Doyle gets ahold of a car to go after a killer. The killer, though, is careening above him in an elevated train. It's a great chase that perfectly complements the story. Through it, viewers come to understand Hackman's character. The French Connection is without a doubt, one of the best action films of all time and has inspired countless films trying to ape its gritty driving sequences.
Gone in 60 Seconds (1974)
This classic 1974 original—not the Angelina Jolie version—boasts one of the greatest car chases of all time. H.B. Halicki not only produced the movie, he directed it, starred in it, and was the film's chief stunt driver. The story itself is a bit of a wash, but let’s be honest, you don’t come to these movies for the plot. The brilliant car chase sequence lasts 40 minutes and wrecks nearly 100 cars. This was a quite a technical and expensive feat for its time.
Sadly, Halicki died in a stunt gone wrong while filming the sequel, which is a reminder to all chase enthusiasts: Before you take your 2014 Ford Escape on the run, remember that these are professional stunt drivers. Don't try driving like this at home.
The Blues Brothers (1980)
While it’s peculiar to include a screwball musical comedy on a list with classic action films, the penultimate police chase scene in John Landis’s SNL based film is one that cannot be forgotten. While most action films were content with wrecking a handful of police cruisers, Landis took the concept to an absurd level by wrecking a whopping 60 cop cars on screen. Approximately 40 stunt drivers were hired for the stunt and the crew kept a 24-hour auto body repair shop open just to pull it off. This is an especially impressive feat considering that the crew had no compositing tricks or CGI to rely on like the blockbusters of today. All of those crashes were real!
The Town (2010)
Ben Affleck’s intense crime-thriller set on the streets of Boston helped to bring back some of the old-school flavor with its chase sequences. Affleck was inspired by the scenes in The French Connection and made an effort to bring back the danger in the chase. The Town is set in modern Boston and follows the lives of violent bank robbers set on pulling off the biggest heist of their lives – robbing the Red Sox Stadium. The chase scene involves Affleck and his gang taking on police in the narrow Boston city streets as they race to make it over the bridge leading into Charleston. The dangerous corners, tight camera shots and violent action proves that modern films still have what it takes to be compared with the classics. It’s harrowing to say the least.
These are just a few of the most action-packed, adrenaline fueled car chase films ever put on film. What are some of your favorites?
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