What makes a good car chase? Is it the awesome cars? Or is it plenty of over the top crashes? Maybe even an explosion or three? Many movies have all of these factors, but the car chases don’t really stick in our collective memories. What is the prevalent factor that makes a car chase memorable? While Hollywood producers would love to have a single answer, there really isn’t one.
What makes a car chase memorable varies for each audience member. For some, it’s driving that shows true skill behind the wheel. For others, it’s expert directing and true skill behind the camera. Some enjoy over the top special effects, while others appreciate barebones classic car chases. A dash of comedy can even make a car chase memorable for others in the crowd.
We will revisit the most memorable car chases of all time, at least in cinema history. Each one was specifically chosen to illustrate the different types of car chases that have become memorable for millions.
Impossible Skill and Awesome Cars
1. “Gone in Sixty Seconds” (2000) – This remake of a classic features a compelling script, impressive acting and a slew of rare and beautiful cars. Of the many heart pounding car chases in this movie, the particular chase that makes the list is the one at the very end. Nicholas Cage drives a beautiful and pristine Shelby GT. He, and his stunt driver, both display a captivating level of skill in handling that machine. The maneuvers we see in this car chase are unlike any ever before attempted. The majority of this chase was filmed using classic methods – except for the impossible long jump right at the end.
2. “The Bourne Identity” (2002) – Two words: Mini-Cooper. This movie came out right around the same time mini cars were being unleashed on the public. This movie helped give them street cred. Matt Damon, and his stunt driver, were both dynamite behind the wheel of that Mini. The car chase featuring the Cooper lives in the hall of fame for director creativity. It was spinning, accelerating and making turns that a “normal” car couldn’t comprehend. The famous scene with the Mini flying down stairs probably sold more Coopers than any ad campaign.
Comedy and Destruction
3. “Smokey and the Bandit” (1977) – This entire movie is an hour-and-a-half-long car chase; it’s one entertaining thrill ride. Especially for its time and it has aged rather well. It features a love story, a buddy comedy and a timeless tale of smuggling alcohol across state borders. Smokey showcases a pristine Trans-Am, which tears around the South evading police and covering for a truck full of beer. We see the same Sheriff continually get foiled by Smokey’s skilled driving. He simply can’t keep up. Smokey makes the list because it’s a non-stop comedic adventure.
4. “The Blues Brothers” (1980) – This “mission from God” ruined hundreds of police cars and a shopping mall. The directors of this flick actually got a great deal from a local police department that had just upgraded their fleet. So, they had hundreds of police cars to trash. This resulted in way over the top pile-ups, roof sliding and mall destruction. All in all, a hilarious and comedic mishap that very few car chase scenes have been able to match.
Over-the-top Effects and Explosions
5. “The Matrix Reloaded” (2003) – The producers of “The Matrix Reloaded” actually built a ten-mile stretch of highway in the middle of nowhere, merely for the over-the-top chase scene in the second installment of this trilogy. The chase features superhuman powers on all fronts: bad guys who can float right in to your car, jump from hood to hood and dodge bullets. Morpheus and Trinity don’t stand a chance; yet they survive. This scene features a thrilling car-on-motorcycle chase when Trinity goes against traffic, while hauling the Keymaker. This insane car chase concludes with a slow motion head on collision between two semis. What more could you want?
Car Chases Will Always Be
This list compiles the most memorable car chases of all time, at least to some tastes and in certain regards. However, in no way is it inclusive or an end-all list. Every year, we see bigger chases, faster cars and more insane special effects. One thing is for certain: we will be seeing action-packed car chases until cars, or movies, cease to exist.
This post was written and contributed by Edson Farnell. Edson writes about various automotive topics. Edson has been working on cars and trusts only PartsGeek for his auto parts. Many of Edson’s friends refer to him as the Auto Parts Geek due.