There are few things that personify intensity so well as a high-speed chase on the streets. Its out of control, and its got lots of sex and violence associated with its main component; cars. Nothing can get our pulses racing like a good action scene as vehicles go flying along tearing up asphalt and making our hearts beat as fast as the engines rev. We all have our favorite car chases, and here are the movies that contain our top 10:
10. Children of Men:
Nothing is as perilous as a race to save mankind. Stakes dont get higher than the survival of life as we know it, and when we’re emotionally invested in a nightmarish vision of the future like that of “Children of Men” (Clive Owen, Julianne Moore, and Michael Caine) where mankind is slowly dying out, we get that much more involved when wheels start spinning for the sake of preserving all we know and hold dear.
9. The Rock
How could anyone not get wrapped up in the fun of watching Nicolas Cage race all over San Francisco chasing Sean Connery whos stolen a Hummer? Theres too much excitement and laughter to be had in this movie where a convict whose been locked away for life with no trial must help a federal agent tackle a group or rogue Marines who have taken Alcatraz up as their homebase. Every minute of action in this film is cool.
8. Lethal Weapon 4
Long before Mel Gibson stepped behind the camera, he made a character named Martin Riggs his own, and when Mel and Danny Glover take it to the highway trying to prove they’re not too old for this, they get wild and crazy like only Riggs and Roger could do. When they get in deep, they get in trouble, and no one thinks its smart to jump off moving vehicles or drive off highways into buildings, but when you want sensational action, these are the guys you want to give it to you.
7. The Fast and the Furious
When you make racing cool again, you make the list. Making the cut isnt just about Paul Walker going undercover in the secret world of street racing; its also about a huge action star whos so right for the role that he had to be named Diesel (Vin Diesel, that is). Theres no shortage of fuel to make this the trend-setter for its new generation of car-crazed kids with their suped-up engines and their lust for tearing up the asphalt.
6. The Bourne Identity
Its not easy to stop Jason Bourne. Hes the Jack Bauer of movie spies, the American James Bond, the elusive secret operative with no memory but a clearly troubling past whose lightning speed and wit are prepared for any situation, off and on road. When Matt Damon and Franka Potente drive down rock steps and flee from cops in hot pursuit, theres chaos and collisions that made critics make comparisons worthy of “The French Connection.”
5. The Matrix Reloaded
Inside a computer, you can do anything, including fly like Superman, dodge bullets, and outrun flaming implosions of the Matrix itself, but you cant get on the freeway. Morpheus tried to warn them, but it was the inevitable chase scene that only freed our minds about chase scenes Wachowski Brothers style, because not only are the effects mind-blowing but the chase itself is nerve-racking. In a world with bendable rules, Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne and Carrie-Ann Moss take the high road.
4. The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift
Even I was surprised by how this one grabbed me, but where the original “Fast and the Furious” tore up the road, “Tokyo Drift” burned rubber and left the pavement smoking. From the streets of Tokyo to the winding hills with impossible curves, topping that whipped cream with the cherry stunt driving that leaves behind so much other stunt racing out there, you cant help but feel the fury in the third “Fast” film.
3. The Bourne Supremacy
If you thought “The Bourne Identity” rivals “The French Connection,” you haven’t seen its sequel. When Matt Damon and Karl Urban come to a car chase battle to the death, the music is pumping, the camera is dashing, and the tension is so thick you could choke holding your breath waiting for the killer climax. All this is to say nothing of the more dramatic and much less satisfying car chase at the beginning of the movie that paves the way for the big ending later on to be that much more heart-stopping.
2. The French Connection
Speaking of “The French Connection,” here it is. You simply cant talk great car chases, much less top car chases without talking about one of the best known classics. Its the second most referenced car chase and the second most coveted to recapture in thrilling momentum. In 1971, Gene Hackman chased a train through traffic, close quarters, collisions, and somehow kept up every inch of the way with a train running all its stops. It set the bar a little higher in its time and gave audiences the most reckless ride of their time.
You simply dont talk about cars without talking about the king of cool, Steve McQueen. And you just dont talk about car chases without talking about “Bullitt.” Why bother otherwise? Lt. Frank Bullitt not only set the standard, he set the precedent. The highs and lows of San Francisco made McQueens 68 Mustang airborne as it literally flew passed 110 miles per hour. Car chase scenes havent been the same since. There will never be another “Bullitt” just like there will never be another Steve McQueen.
In the end, it all comes down to your personal tastes and what gets your engine racing as it straps you down for a front row seat to the action, whether its thriller, drama, or sci-fi flicks that get your motor going. These are just our picks, and you can decide for yourself what your top 10 are. But, in the end, every debate about the greatest car chase scene in history comes down to one word; Bullitt.