Movies are filled with some great car choreography. And if they’re good, they give us serious heart palpitations. Some movies, like the Fast and Furious series, are entirely dependent on iconic car chases (and occasional crashes). Good guys vs. bad guys battling it out on the streets, these chases create adrenaline-pumping tension we need-for-speed junkies thrive on.
Here are our top seven movie car chases.
Terminator 2 (1991)
Although there are a few great chase scenes in this flick, one the best is the T-1000 (android assassin) stealing a big rig and chasing young John Conner on his little motorbike. This scene also carries one of the film’s most glaring continuity errors. (At one point, the big rig’s windshield is broken out, and in the next scene it appears magically unbroken.)
Still, the idea of a powerful semi-truck driven by a Terminator vs. the tiny motorbike ridden by a young, but skilled teen running for his life is enough to leave you in need of defib. Even if you never see the rest of the series, this scene alone is worth the cost of popcorn.
Gone in 60 Seconds (1974, 2000)
This one is actually two movies by the same name. The first, the 1974 classic version has a huge car chase/pile up that runs through the ports of Long Beach. It’s 34 heart-stopping minutes long, and uses 93 cars (never to be used again).
The remake with Nicolas Cage has its moments too. The chase with Eleanor takes on epic proportions. Favorite moment? Cage driving in reverse, smiling at the child in the opposite car, before he spins around and continues his escape in earnest.
If you’ve seen one, check out the other. Both are well worth watching. If you haven’t seen either, grab some popcorn and get started.
Take Robert Deniro and Natascha McElhone. Put her in a BMW, him in a Peugeot, and drive them through the streets of Paris at 75-100 miles per hour through narrow streets and roundabouts, and in wrong-way traffic. What do you get? One of the greatest chase scenes ever. The actors look genuinely terrified, because at times, they literally were. Director John Frankenheimer had them actually driving, both actors required to attend
High Performance Driving School before filming.
Not a scene rich in dialogue, the chase lets the cars and the danger around them speak for itself.
The Blues Brothers (1978)
The Blues Brothers are on a mission from God to get the band back together, and it seems like nothing can stop them. Indeed, in the chase scene with what must be the entire Chicago police department, they manage to wreck more black and whites than seems possible. Their narrow escapes border on the unlikely and insane.
Driving their own ex-cop car, the “brothers” combine speed, finesse, luck, and a little jumping skill to get past the officers of the law. Aside from the chases, the film is filled with great songs and cool musicians.
The Road Warrior (1981)
The second movie in the Mad Max series climaxes with a 20-minute car chase that includes all kinds of vehicles over some stunning terrain. From trucks, to motorbikes, to all kinds of retooled muscle cars, this scene combines the best of emotion, success, failure, and a conclusion that comes as a surprise.
A movie worth checking out, it features other chase scenes custom-made for any auto aficionado.
Fast and the Furious (2001-2015)
Whatever you think of the somewhat notorious franchise that includes good, bad, and downright ugly plots and fails, the chase scenes are epic. The Fast Five safe-pulling scene, while highly unrealistic, has its own cool factor. However, nothing in the franchise beats the first movie that concludes with two of the greatest chase scenes of all time, including two that make this movie second on our list.
The first is the scene where Dom and Brian chase two fiends on motorbikes. In a classic battle of American muscle vs. Japanese ingenuity (and nitrous oxide systems), the chase is solid and ends with the bikers down, leading to the final scene in which the men engage in a frenetic quarter-mile race.
While the movie itself is predictable to a certain extent, it lays the foundation for the franchise and has some other decent chase scenes as well. It’s about fast cars, after all, and the inaugural outing of the crew is well worth the watch.
Predictable as our top choice, the iconic chase scene featuring Steve McQueen, arguably at his best, and his ’68 Mustang, is still considered by many as the greatest car chase of all time. The setting, the streets of San Francisco, make the chase that much more iconic. Here’s the thing: the movie was filmed in 1968, and in nearly five decades, no car chase has ever surpassed for sheer adrenaline and quality driving skill.
For all our modern movie technology, nothing beats a great stunt driver and a great car. These are the top seven (with a couple doubles for good measure) car chase scenes in movies, at least according to us. What did we miss, and what did we get wrong? Let us know in the comments below.