Greatest Chase Scenes
in Film History

Part 9

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

Ronin (1998)

This heist thriller from John Frankenheimer contained two of the best white-knuckle, hair-raising, most realistic car chase sequences ever filmed.

One was a thrilling high-speed chase with a blue Peugeot 406 driven by head mercenary Sam (Robert De Niro) following a black BMW M5, driven by Deirdre (Natascha McElhone) in a high-speed, wrong-way race through Parisian streets and a metro tunnel under the Seine River and continuing into heavy freeway traffic. The car chase ended when the tires on Deirdre's car were shot at, causing it to roll and crash, careen off the end of an uncompleted highway, and burst into flames.

An earlier car chase sequence began with an ambush and fierce gun-battle in Nice, France, orchestrated by Sam and Vincent (Jean Reno), in order to intercept a steel briefcase. The chase mainly involved an Audi S8, a BMW M5 and a Mercedes Benz 450SEL. Out of town, cars careened on a twisting Cote d'Azur coast-side road along the French Riviera. When two of the cars were diverted off the main road due to construction, the chase continued on a dirt road, and then returned to the narrow streets of the town, marked by many tunnels through buildings. It ended when one of the cars plowed through the harbor/waterfront where restaurant diners were eating on the street.

The World is Not Enough (1999)

In the pre-title credits sequence, agent James Bond (Pierce Brosnan) pursued shapely but lethal assassin Cigar Girl (Maria Grazia Cucinotta) after she was responsible for the explosive death of wealthy industrialist and oil tycoon Sir Robert King (David Calder) in MI6 headquarters in London, England.

He noticed her yacht-speedboat on the nearby Thames River, where she was observing the damage and aiming to kill him with her scoped rifle. He pursued in "Q's" (Desmond Llewelyn) unfinished, rocket-propelled jet boat, and had to evade the larger boat when the pretty sniper fired machine-gun rounds and a bazooka at him.

After a lengthy and destructive chase sequence (during which Bond submerged his boat for a dive under a lowered bridge, and also emerged on land and crashed through a wharf-side restaurant as a short-cut), the two ended up at the Millennium Dome, where the Cigar Girl attempted to escape in a hot-air balloon after her boat was torpedoed.

Bond sailed through the air and grabbed onto the balloon's safety line as it ascended, while MI6 surrounded them by helicopter, and Bond offered to protect her if she cooperated:

"Listen to me. You can't get away. We can make a deal. Just tell me who's behind this? Who are you working for? Don't do it! Don't blow us up. I can protect you! Do you understand? I can protect you!"

But she refused ("Not from him!").

She decided to suicidally kill herself by blowing up one of the helium gas tanks on the balloon, as Bond lept from the safety line, fell onto the roof of the Dome, and survived although he suffered a dislocated collarbone.

Charlie's Angels (2000)

In this chase, ditzy blonde Angel Natalie Cook (Cameron Diaz), in a white Formula One-styled racecar, chased the Creepy Thin Man (Crispin Glover) in his black race car around the banked California Speedway (with high-speed 180 degree spins and some racing that went the wrong way). Angel Alex (Lucy Liu) reassured Natalie:

"Nat, it's a round track — he's not going anywhere."

But then they left the track in the stadium and proceeded out onto the streets of Los Angeles (where people and cars scattered - including an airborne surfboard) - leading to a spectacular wreck of a red car and a game of chicken between the race cars on a suspension bridge.

Driven (2001)

Renny Harlan's mindless action drama was about international CART auto racing, with a script by star Sylvester Stallone, who served as a former racing star and driving mentor for rookie Jimmy Bly (Kip Pardue) before the competition.

There was a memorable night-time race through city streets -- including the famous shot of the racers driving past a hotel and blowing a sexy blonde passerby's dress up - a semi-referential nod to The Seven Year Itch (1955).

The Fast and the Furious (2001)

A young, blonde and blue-eyed LA undercover FBI agent, rookie Brian (Paul Walker) investigated a series of diesel hijackings (and a gang's fencing of stolen high-end electronic goods) within a street gang, led by Dominic ("Dom") Toretto (Vin Diesel) driving a '69 Charger. Street racers used souped up, nitrous oxide-injected vehicles, including Honda Civics, Toyota Supras, and a Mazda RX-7.

The film, directed by Rob Cohen, opened with a violent, high-speed, western-style robbery on an interstate highway of a semi-truck by smaller, black supercharged vehicles. And the high-adrenaline finale featured three classic car chases.

[The original film, The Fast and the Furious (1955), was made in the mid-50s, but it was similar in title only. A sequel made in 2003 by director John Singleton, 2 Fast 2 Furious, had Walker as the only returning cast member from the original, in a new setting - Southern Florida, with more high-speed street-racing sequences.]

The Bourne Identity (2002)

In this exciting action-thriller set in Paris, amnesiac CIA assassin Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) maneuvered away from the CIA and Parisian gendarmes in a red, battered-old vintage Austin Mini Cooper as they closed in on him.

Before the chase began, he cautioned his vagabond girlfriend Marie Kreutz (Franka Potente) passenger next to him, the car's owner, that she should leave: "Last chance, Marie," but she remained with him. He negotiated the tiny vehicle through heavy traffic in Paris, through narrow alleyways, down stone steps (before which he warned: "So, we got a bump comin' up"), along sidewalk pavements, and up one-way thoroughfares, causing multiple pile-ups around their car.

The extended chase sequence ended when one of the last pursuing police motorcyclists crashed into a Peugeot 405, and they pulled into an underground parking garage.

Die Another Day (2002)

This Bond film had a spectacularly-inventive and slick car chase/battle scene, in which two cars (Bond's Aston Martin V12 Vanquish and a Jaguar XKR convertible) dueled on the ice face of a frozen lake (at Vatnajökull glacier, in southeast Iceland).

The Jaguar was equipped with a Gatling gun centered behind the driver and passenger seats, missiles emerging from the front grille, concealed door-mounted rocket launchers and a trunk full of mortar bombs. It was pitted against the Vanquish, that was manufactured with 9mm machine guns that emerged fom the hood vents, five heat-seeking missiles, two shotguns that operated from the front radiator grille, and an ejector seat.

There was also a great hovercraft chase sequence in the film.

2 Fast 2 Furious (2003)

Buddies Brian and Roman (Paul Walker and Tyrese Gibson) were pursued by cops in a race across Miami, resulting in damage to 16 police cars, 2 Jeeps, two classic cars, and one yacht.

[The second sequel was titled The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift (2006) and was set in Japan. It featured the most complex race/chase scenes of the series, incorporating the perilous practice of "drifting" (sliding sideways on all four car tires as a way of negotiating turns).]

Bad Boys II (2003)

Jamaican gangsters tossed cars (15 Mercedes Benz) from a transporter at detectives Will Smith and Martin Lawrence driving high-speed on the freeway, resulting in carnage/damage to dozens of cars on the freeway, the transporter, and a boat.

The film also featured the disturbing and controversial fascistic characters of the two detectives, who aimed a gun and threatened a 10 year old boy, made wisecracks while tossing corpses out of a morgue transport vehicle onto a freeway, and demolished a Cuban tent city with tanks.

The Italian Job (2003)

This remake of the 1969 original starred Edward Norton (as the mastermind criminal), Charlize Theron (as a "vault and safe technician"), Donald Sutherland (as a veteran safecracker) and Mark Wahlberg (as the young leader).

It included a heist of $35 million (in gold bars) and featured an escape of three Mini Coopers (red, white, and blue) through an orchestrated Los Angeles traffic jam. They evaded a helicopter as they careened down Hollywood's Walk of Fame on the sidewalk and entered an LA subway station via the stairs.

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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