My Dad and I were talking about car chases in movies last week. My Dad, as I have mentioned before, is a huge fan of cars and therefore he loves a good car chase in movies. Even though I don’t know how to drive I still reckon being a stunt driver is possibly one of the coolest jobs in the world and a job I’d love!
Anyway after a five minute discussion, we settled on a list of the best car chases in film. If you agree or disagree or have any suggestions for your favourite car chase that we haven’t included, then have at it in the comments!
This is probably one of the most famous car chases in cinematic history. The esteemed film critic Leonard Maitlin called it “a classic…one of the screen’s all time best…” It’s almost eleven minutes long and is filmed in San Francisco, with the city’s bumpy earthquake ravaged landscape providing the perfect setting for a nailbiting chase featuring two modified Ford Mustangs. Contrary to popular opinion the film’s star Steve McQueen, although a very accomplished driver, only did about 10% of the actual scene and was featured in close-ups. The rest was the work of stunt professionals including the legendary Bud Ekins.
2. The French Connection.
This is one of my favourite car chase scenes especially for the fact that it is a car chasing a villain who is escaping on a train, therefore much of the chase happens underneath railway tracks. The scene was filmed in Brooklyn and the film crew did not get prior permission from the city to film such a dangerous stunt, therefore much of what happens although choreographed is “real” in terms of the fact that the stunt driver had to react to real events as the stunt was happening.
3. The Bourne Identity
An awesome car chase featuring Matt Damon as Jason Bourne behind the wheel of a delapidated Mini driving through the tight and crowded streets of Paris. Just one of the reasons that Jason Bourne rocks.
My Dad’s favourite car chase of all time is the final one in Ronin, the 1998 film starring Robert De Niro and Jean Reno. According to the DVD commentary some of the car chases in this movie used up to 300 stunt drivers! John Frankenheimer directed the movie and being a former amateur racing driver he was heavily involved with the car chase scenes even though these are usually handled by the second unit director. In fact Frankenheimer elected to film all the chase sequences live, forgoing digital special effects, and often rode along.