Classic Car Chases on the Silver Screen

Posted on 22 May 2013 by Tony Santos


One scene that can make all the difference in whether an action movie is considered, “good” is the car chase. Hollywood knows this all too well, which is why most movie car chases have become a bit hackneyed. We all know the unrealistically far jumps and the classic “burst through a solid barrier unscathed” scenes and for the majority of movies, these scenes will blur together in their sameness. However, every now and then a movie puts you at the edge of your seat with an epic car chase and superb driving is what makes it stand out among the others. Ironically enough, some of the greatest car chases of all time were filmed long before CGI existed.


Known as the movie with one of the best car chases in cinematic history, Bullitt (1968) has set a benchmark that is hard to top. Steve McQueen chases gangsters through San Francisco in a Mustang at exhilarating speeds, flying over the hills in a way many a driver can only dream of. Jumping over suspension-destroying dips, swerving to dodge obstacles in the road at the last minute and screeching around corners, he created an electric, ferocious atmosphere that is still talked about today.

The Italian Job

A year after Bullitt came a movie that made the Mini extremely cool and popular. The Italian Job (1969) was recently voted as the top classic motoring movie of all time and with good reason. The allure of this car chase is not the speed but the agility of the Mini. A couple of gold thieves transport their loot through the streets of Turin in three Mini Coopers, going down stairs in the cars, through arcades, over a curved rooftop, through a traffic jam and even through a series of sewer pipes. There is not much suspense, but you can’t help but marvel at the execution of this well-planned heist.

Gone in 60 Seconds

Although Nicolas Cage managed a pretty decent car chase in the remake, it is the original 1974 movie that is considered by many to be a classic example of a brilliant chase. In a 40-minute car chase, almost a hundred vehicles were wrecked.

Matrix Reloaded

This car chase must be one of the craziest of all time and is nothing like your conventional chase because it is rooted in non-reality. This 17 minute long chase alone cost about 40 million dollars to shoot, but it was worth it. Morpheus is chased by the Virii twins and through cutting edge CGI combined with real stunts, the Wachowski brothers let the cars do unimaginable things that would only be possible in the far future.

Ronin (1998)

More than 300 stunt drivers collaborated in this epic film, crashing a staggering amount of motorcycles, sedans, trucks and police cars for pure viewing pleasure. With very realistic real-time chases, Jean Reno makes even the mundane Peugeot look like a very desirable car.

Fast & Furious

The Fast and the Furious movies are wildly popular because of their car chases. Jam packed with beautiful, fast cars, these movies are dreams come true for every car lover. The first in the series was awarded for the most car chases ever to be shown in one film.

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