Greatest Chase Scenes
in Film History

Part 7

Greatest Film Chase Scenes
Title Screen
Film Title/Year and Description of Chase Scene

Back to the Future (1985)

In this film was the memorable scene in which Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) created a makeshift skateboard ("It's a board with wheels) from a little boy's scooter and evaded bully Biff Tannen (Thomas F. Wilson) and his gang chasing him on foot and in their car by hanging onto the back of a pickup truck.

He eventually caused them to crash into a manure truck (they screamed "Shit!" as they crashed into it, in this PG-rated film, and Biff vowed: "I'm gonna get that son of a bitch") -- this scene would be referenced, with variations, in the next two sequels.

To Live and Die in L.A. (1985)

In one of William Friedkin's greatest films, a most- and well-remembered car stunt and chase sequence was the one in which undercover US Treasury Secret Agent Richard Chance (William L. Petersen before CSI) drove his tan Chevrolet up LA's 710 freeway exit ramp directly into multiple lanes of oncoming traffic - and at top-speed near-missed every one of them - yet caused the jack-knifing of a tractor-trailer!

[Note: One astonishing shot was an over-the-shoulder driver's POV shot of the entire freeway, showing the oncoming cars from far ahead.]

Running Scared (1986)

In this action/comedy by director Peter Hyams, two wise-cracking Chicago cops, Ray Hughes (Gregory Hines) and Danny Costanzo (Billy Crystal) (in a Yellow taxi with bullet-proof windows, and two innocent passengers, a priest and a nun) chased after cocaine-smuggling drug lord Julio Gonzales (Jimmy Smits) in a black Cadillac limousine.

The pursuit began at the airport and traveled on the interstate, and then through the city streets, as Gonzales ordered his driver: "Do whatever you have to do to get us outta here, OK?" The limo crashed through a railroad crossing, and sped along the train tracks, and then mounted onto the rails as both cars entered a tunnel. The vehicles barely avoided a head-on collision with one of the CTA's Red Line subway trains, and Danny reported by radio that they were on the city's elevated train tracks: "Pursuit has left the interstate, now we're on the L."

Eventually, Julio's limo crashed into another train on another subway line, and their car was flipped over, although they escaped just before impact. Surveying the damage, Danny quipped: "Why weren't we on that track?" Ray shouted back: "Oh, now you're gonna criticize my driving?" Danny responded: "It's just that you get to do all the dangerous stuff, and I get to parallel park."

Akira (1988, Jp.)

This Japanese anime film contained some of the most kinetic sequences in animation history.

In the film's opening scene set in Neo-Tokyo in the year 2019 following WWIII, two rival gangs of cyberpunks attacked each other through the streets of the dystopic, futuristic metropolis, culminating in a game of chicken between teenaged delinquent hero Kaneda and the rival Clown gangleader.

The Abyss (1989)

James Cameron's film included a thrilling underwater chase scene between two submersibles, one manned by Bud and Lindsey Brigman (Ed Harris, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio), the other by the pressure-sick Lt. Coffey (Michael Biehn).

It culminated with Coffey sinking into the Abyssal Trench, screaming as his submersible imploded, with Bud and Lindsey left stranded in a leaking vessel.

Back to the Future, Part II (1989)

This sequel featured two Hoverboard scenes, including a reprise of the Hill Valley skateboard chase scene around the town square in the future year of 2015, and another tense scene in which Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox), riding a hoverboard, retrieved Grays Sports Almanac from young Biff Tannen (Thomas F. Wilson) in 1955 as Biff drove his vehicle (with Marty hanging on for his life) into the river road tunnel.

Earlier in the same sequence, Marty was being chased by Biff and his cronies at the Enchantment Under the Sea dance -- he was distracted by another Marty playing "Johnny B Goode," forcing the first Marty to figure out a way to eliminate Biff's goons without interfering with history.

There was also an earlier scene in the year 1985 in which Marty was chased to the top of Biff's high-rise casino "Pleasure Paradise" by Biff's goons and by Biff himself wielding a gun to murder him. Marty seemingly stepped off the building to commit suicide (he actually stepped atop the flying DeLorean time machine-car and was whisked away by "Doc" Brown (Christopher Lloyd)).

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989)

In the memorable "Young Indy" scenes, a teenaged Indiana Jones (River Phoenix) was chased by treasure-hunters over a circus train, with Indiana acquiring his trademarks: his phobia about snakes (by falling into a snake-filled car), the cut on his chin (using a whip for the first time) and his fedora (given to him by the head treasure-hunter).

There was also a speedboat chase that culminated when an adult Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) was stuck on a speedboat with his pursuer as the boat was chewed up by the screws of a tanker.

Also memorable were the escapes by Indiana with his father Henry (Sean Connery), especially when German fighter planes were chasing them -- one was dispatched when it entered a tunnel with them, shearing its wings, and the other when Henry wisely used his umbrella to frighten a flock of seagulls that pelted the plane and caused it to crash (Henry proudly said: "I suddenly remembered my Charlemagne -- "Let my armies be the rocks and the trees... and the birds in the sky").

In another scene, Indiana had to rescue his father being held inside a tank while on horseback - at one point, a jeep was blown off the tank, and Indiana and the tank commander fought on the tank's treads.

Back to the Future, Part III (1990)

In the finale, mad scientist Emmett "Doc" Brown (Christopher Lloyd) raced against time to save schoolteacher and romantic interest Clara Clayton (Mary Steenbergen), as she inched along the about-to-explode train locomotive's engine, which was pushing the DeLorean in an effort to get it to 88 mph to return Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) from 1885 to the future year of 1985.

"Doc" and Clara were saved at the last minute by Marty's hoverboard that he sent alongside them. Although the locomotive was destroyed as the tracks came to an end and it exploded in the ravine, the DeLorean time machine successfully attained 88 mph and was zapped "back to the future."

Greatest Classic Chase Scenes in Film History

(chronological, by film title)
Introduction | Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8 | Part 9 | Part 10

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