There is really no better time for a movie marathon than the June Gloom of summer, and with the season in full swing, some are likely heading off on a holiday jaunt, while others are just simply enjoying some quiet time at home.
For those planning on a long weekend staycation sometime over the course of the next four months, we have compiled a list of movies with the best car chases of all time, because if you’re not heading out on the road sometime this summer for vacation, why not curl up on the couch and watch others tear after each other on the cinematic roadways? Check out our list of the best cinematic car chases of all time.
18 The French Connection
20th Century Fox
Widely considered the best cinematic car chase sequence of all time, Popeye Doyle’s (Gene Hackman) high-speed New York City pursuit in The French Connection is simply stunning. Director William Friedkin’s genius has never been on display more than in this classic scene that helped set the bar for every movie car chase that followed.
While Ronin is a largely forgettable film as a whole, this ten-minute car chase scene through the streets of Paris is easily one of the best in movie history. Robert De Niro’s Sam and Jean Reno’s Vincent give chase when Natascha McElhone (Deidre), Stellan Skarsgård (Gregor), and Jonathan Pryce (Seamus O’Rourke) get away with an important package. Directed with flawless precision by John Frankenheimer, Ronin’s car chase will stand out as one of the best ever for ages to come.
16 The Matrix Reloaded
Warner Bros. Pictures
Sure, you can be disappointed in The Matrix Reloaded all you want, but even if you were let down by the sequel, there is no denying that the highway chase sequence is pure cinematic car chase gold. The Wachowskis were truly at the top of their directorial game in this scene, which may be one of the most jaw-droppingly stunning scenes they’ve ever directed. We’d pay good money to watch this scene on the big screen one more time, even if it meant having to sit through the rest of the movie.
15 Bad Boys II
Sony Pictures Releasing
Not everyone was the biggest fan of Bad Boys II when it hit theaters 12 years ago, but the car-dropping Miami chase sequence is truly phenomenal. Sure, it’s littered with less-than-stellar dialogue throughout (like the rest of the movie), but this 10-minute scene is surely worthy of inclusion on any best car chase scene list. This might be the best scene Michael Bay has ever directed.
While die-hard fans keep waiting for the sequel to Timur Bekmambetov’s Wanted, which we haven’t heard about any movement on in years, fans can still enjoy this unique and innovative car chase scene. Our jaws still drop every time we see Angelina Jolie scoop up James McAvoy in her Dodge Viper, and this scene even features some of the bullet-bending trickery that made the movie so noteworthy in the first place.
13 The Blues Brothers
Possibly the most destructive scene on this list, The Blues Brothers’ epic chase through a mall surely stands out as one of the best of all time, as Jake (John Belushi) and Ellwood Blues (Dan Aykroyd) casually mention all the different stores they pass while driving through. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that the classic Blues Brothers song is playing as this awesome chase unfolds.
Featuring Steve McQueen in possibly his best role ever, Bullitt showcases an incredible car chase through the hilly streets of San Francisco, directed to perfection by Peter Yates. It seems that Steve McQueen did most of his own driving in this iconic scene, which makes it that much more impressive.
11 Vanishing Point
20th Century Fox
While it’s not exactly a “chase scene” per se, the final scene of Vanishing Point is truly iconic and still talked about to this day. The music group Audioslave even paid homage to the film in their music video for Show Me How to Live. It’s a truly fascinating end to a phenomenal cult classic that needs to be more recognized for its brilliance.
10 The Cannonball Run
20th Century Studios
You’d be hard-pressed to find a movie that opens so wonderfully as the brilliant chase sequence in Hal Needham’s The Cannonball Run. Gorgeously shot and directed, the cop car Camaro’s futile chase of a black Lamborghini Countach brilliantly sets the tone for what would go on to be a true classic.
9 To Live and Die in L.A.
MGM/UA Entertainment Co.
Another classic from the inimitable William Friedkin, To Live and Die in L.A. features a fantastic chase scene that is just as spectacular as the iconic The French Connection sequence. While the movie isn’t nearly as prolific as The French Connection, the car chase is truly superb.
8 The Rock
Buena Vista Pictures Distribution
Say what you will about Michael Bay, but the man sure does know how to direct a thrilling chase scene. The Rock is the second Michael Bay movie to make it on the list, and also the second chase filmed in San Francisco, where Stanley Goodspeed (Nicolas Cage) commandeers a Ferrari to chase down John Patrick Mason (Sean Connery), who uses his massive Hummer H1 to leave a path of destruction in his wake.
7 The Bourne Identity
While it certainly may be the “weakest” movie in the trilogy, The Bourne Identity not only introduces us to the memory-impaired spy Jason Bourne (Matt Damon), but gives us another thrilling Paris chase scene that is just as good as Ronin. What makes the scene even more impressive is the fact that Bourne is able to evade his captors while driving a tiny French car.
6 Mad Max: Fury Road
If you haven’t seen Mad Max: Fury Road yet, what are you waiting for? If you have seen the movie you’ll know that almost the entire movie takes place on the road, with a treasure trove of unique and monstrous vehicles that are truly a sight to behold. The massive speaker truck, complete with a onesie-wearing, flame-throwing guitarist is a symbol of the enormity of director George Miller’s vision for this apocalyptic world, and the epic scope itself.
5 Gone in 60 Seconds
Buena Vista Pictures Distribution
Gone In 60 Seconds has some intense and evocative car chases throughout the film. After all, the crew has to steal 50 cars in 24 hours to save Nicolas Cage’s character’s brother from being killed. However, the definitive chase sequence in the film is for the last car on the list, a Shelby Mustang GT500 named “Eleanor.” The final sequence sees Cage being chased by a large section of the LAPD as he drives through the LA streets toward the shipyard to deliver Eleanor to the drug lord who has his brother captive.
The entire final chase sequence is about 7 to 10 minutes long and is the definitive car chase of the film. By the end of the chase, Eleanor is completely wrecked, which is a mighty shame because the car is rather elegant, however, with excellent cinematography and some interesting music, the Eleanor chase scene remains memorable.
4 Batman: The Dark Knight
Warner Bros. Pictures
This particular car chase sequence in Batman: The Dark Knight is where Christopher Nolan’s astute direction comes to the fore. In the sequence in the movie, Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart) is being escorted in an armored vehicle along with a handful of police cars. Midway through their journey, the Joker (Heath Ledger) decides to attack the convoy. Ledger does a brilliant job bringing this scene to life as he swaps guns for a bazooka, with a wicked grin on his face as his truck begins to take out several police cars that are escorting the armored van while he unloads his weapons on the van.
Batman (Christian Bale) soon arrives on the scene and has to leave his bat mobile for a two-wheeler bat pod, as he follows the Joker’s truck and the convoy and the scene follows the action that unfolds. Nolan’s expert cinematographic prowess is rather evident in this sequence as the camera cuts to side shots and aerial shots of the vehicles in pursuit and all the action that unfolds, which also involves a truck being tossed vertically in the air. It’s an invigorating and dramatic scene in the movie that is shot to perfection and keeps audiences guessing.
3 The Italian Job
De Line Pictures
The Italian Job has some compelling car chases throughout the film. However, the final chase sequence in which the crew steals back the bounty of gold that was stolen by their ex-team member Steve (Edward Norton) who defected and conned them to steal it for himself, serves as an exciting finale to the film.
The chase sequence starts with Norton using decoy trucks to transport the gold as he monitors them in a helicopter flying above. The crew then hijacks the truck that has the loot and drives three Mini Coopers to escape as Norton chases them in his helicopter. The entire scene is action-packed and thrilling as the Mini Coopers evade traffic along with Steve’s henchmen and his helicopter in pursuit. The sequence also comprises a scene where the chopper’s rear blades scrape the car driven by Mark Wahlberg in an underpass. The crew then evade Steve’s helicopter and drive to a safe house to escape with the gold. It’s a pivotal finale to the film and one that makes the movie even more exhilarating and unforgettable.
2 James Bond: Quantum Of Solace & No Time To Die
Sony Pictures Releasing
Bond films have their share of iconic car chases throughout the franchise’s history. The most exciting and on-the-edge car chases in recent memory from Bond films have to be from Quantum Of Solace and more recently, in No Time To Die. For the car chase in Quantum, the location was set in Italy at Lake Garda and used seven Aston Martins and eight Alfa Romeos as Bond evades his pursuers through tunnels and on the cliffs of the rather picturesque location. The Quantum car chase is expertly shot as Bond takes heavy fire from machine guns and then drives into a quarry where he manages to get the better of his pursuers and drive them off a cliff.
No Time To Die also showcased a car chase of epic proportions. Bond is driving away with Madeleine (Lea Seydoux) as he’s chased by a host of enemies in a bulletproof Aston Martin DB5. The chase is rather elaborate as Bond and Madeleine try to evade their pursuers all the while under gunfire. It then culminates in Bond’s car taking heavy fire from all sides as he halts the vehicle, only to then unleash the car’s hidden machine guns by doing a donut and taking out all his enemies, and then escaping to safety. It’s one of the more memorable Bond car chases in what was Daniel Craig’s final film as Bond.
What is perhaps the most innovative way in which a car chase is shot is in Christopher Nolan’s Tenet. The concept of the film is rather confusing as it explores the concept of “entropy” and “time inversion” and how the flow of time can be manipulated. As is the case with most Nolan films, it’s a rather cerebral storyline that could be difficult to understand. However, the chase sequence in the film is as unique, gripping, and intriguing as it gets.
In the scene, the protagonist (John David Washington) is in a car along with Neil (Robert Pattinson) as they try to free Kat (Elizabeth Debicki) from the villain Sator’s clutches and also secure the algorithm that Sator (Kenneth Branagh) is after. In the chase scene, the protagonists’ car is moving forward in time while Sator’s vehicle is “inverted” and a handful of other cars are also traveling backward in time. The shots cut to cars moving in reverse and flipping backward in the air(also in reverse), as the chase proceeds, and with exemplary cinematography and a driving score, the scene explores how the heroes save Kat and trick Sator into thinking he has the algorithm as cars move forward and backward in time simultaneously.