Who doesn’t love a good car chase… The team at Dudepins put their heads together and thought about what two things, a) what are some of the best movies of all time, and b) what are the best car chase sequences that have ever been filmed. Lucky enough, we have a resident movie expert, William, who was more than happy to take the reigns in creating this post for all of you. We hope you enjoy the list we have put together of the best car chase movies of all time. Don’t forget to check out all the amazing car and movie collections on Dudepins.
5. The Bourne Identity
The iconic chase scene from The Bourne Identity is immediately memorable as one of the few times a Mini Cooper has come out on top when it’s come to a car chase (see: The Italian Job (1969), a film that would appear on this list, were it longer). Matt Damon and Franka Potente zip through the streets (and alleys and sidewalks) of Paris, evading the police at every turn, leaving mayhem and destruction in their wake.
The thing I like most about this chase is the effective use of the Mini’s advantages; small size for the narrow Parisian streets, and its short wheelbase and low centre of gravity, allowing for those impressive handbrake turns and quick manoeuvring. When did you ever think a Mini Cooper would best the boys in blue? This scene is a memorable excerpt from a memorable film.
4. Gone in 60 Seconds (1974)
Containing the longest car chase sequence in film history (about 40 minutes), this movie takes the cake for sheer amount of chase footage, chock full of rubber-burning goodness.
Something of a love letter to cars and fast driving, this film was written, directed, produced, starred in and partially stunt driven by one man: H. B. Halicki. Made with a low budget, shot guerrilla style a lot of the time and featuring friends and family in many roles, the acting quality of the film isn’t top notch, but when the wheels start spinning, the real stars of the film shine: the cars.
Halicki drives his 1971 Ford Mustang like he literally stole it, beating it, and the police cars in pursuit, to almost mangled wrecks. The cars aren’t the only ones to suffer either; multiple shots in the film are the result of accidents kept in the final cut, two of which left Halicki injured. If you want to see raw footage of real speed, real danger and really skilled driving, look no further; in an age before CGI and decades before the remake, the stunts in this film are phenomenal.
3. Blues Brothers (1980)
Want to see a 1974 Dodge Monaco evade hundreds of police officers, do huge jumps, flip through the air and even fly? Good, I thought so.
This movie has some of the best stunt driving you’ll see, some of it unrealistic, all of it fantastic and hilarious. The Blues Brothers drive their “Bluesmobile” (literally) through a mall, run a Nazi parade off a bridge into a river and cause the second biggest pile up shot on film. This production held the world record for the largest number of cars destroyed during filming, a record only broken by this film’s own sequel in 1998.
The last 30 minutes alone are legendary for the ridiculous amount of destruction caused during the chase, you’ll be laughing at just how much mayhem these brothers cause.
2. Bullitt (1968)
Another oldie, but one hell of a goodie.
The car chase in this film is legendary, the most exciting up to that date in cinema and some might argue still up there with the best since. Film critic and professor Emanuel Levy said of it: “Bullitt contains one of the most exciting car chases in film history, a sequence that revolutionized Hollywood’s standards. “ And indeed, it could be argued that the editing of this thrilling sequence earned Frank P. Keller the Academy Award for Best Editing.
Taking place in San Francisco, Steve McQueen in a 1968 Ford Mustang Fastback, chases two hit men driving a Dodge Charger. The chase takes place on the intimidatingly steep hills of San Francisco with the cars sliding around corners, catching air off the hills and at one point even hitting one of the cameras filming it all (the footage is used and the chase continues).
Arguably the film that began the phenomenon known as the “Car Chase” movie, as professor Levy has said, it set the standard for Hollywood, with car chase movies revving their engines and blasting across the silver screen for years to come afterwards, Bullitt was a pioneer and should not be missed.
1. Ronin (1998)
This film starring Robert De Niro includes one of the best chase sequences you’ll see on film to date.
That sentence may sound like over-hype, but I really cannot say enough about this collection of scenes, it’s honestly one of the best you’ll see, and with good reason. The director of the film, John Frankenheimer, has a long history with cars and car racing: an amateur racing driver himself, he also shot the racing film Grand Prix (1966).
The entirety of the stunt driving in the film was shot live, mostly in Nice and Paris, with no use of digital effects; a rarity in filmmaking these days. Frankenheimer also shot all the chase sequences himself, something normally left to a second unit director. In addition to all of this hands on filming, accuracy and expertise were employed at all levels: the actual actors were in the cars in many of the shots during the chases, with one of the actors (Skipp Sudduth) doing almost all his characters’ driving himself. The Foley recording artists also recorded the engine noises of the individual cars involved in the chases so they could be accurately placed into the soundtrack during editing.
If the chases look real, and if the cars feel like they have legitimate weight and speed, it’s because they genuinely were either being driven or towed (for the sake of reverse camera angles) at high speeds through the streets, requiring up to 300 stunt drivers at a time for some scenes. The last chase features the most visceral and thrilling footage, between De Niro’s Peugeot chasing a BMW is the absolute highlight.
You could scarcely ask for a better collection of chase scenes on film, they look and feel real and are the centrepieces of an excellent film.
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