The best car chases in cinema

It’s summer, it’s vacation! A short film on the way back from a hard day at the beach, did you like it? And since we’re on Downshift, you might as well pick a movie that includes car chase scenes. That’s good, that’s not what’s missing. On the other hand, it is more complicated to find a movie with really good chases. So get comfortable, we tell you which ones really deserve to be seen.

What is a good hunt? What are the ingredients that make the scene look more or less believable? Many parameters come into play, starting with the way of filming. It is clear that filming with a built-in camera facilitates the spectator’s immersion by throwing him directly into the heart of the action. We then have the impression of being in the car, and off “feel” road and speed. The soundtrack also plays an important role, both in terms of engine sounds and in relation to music.

Also, is it important to play music during a hunt? It depends, in some cases it sublimates the whole, in others it distorts everything. Similarly, engine sounds have a particularly important place in such scenes. It just happens that the sounds are not the right ones. We’ve already seen car chases involving a Mustang making the sound of a V12. Original, but not believable… Finally, the editing is also important, especially when the hunts take place in well-known locations. Seeing cars drive past the same street several times can quickly break the viewer’s immersion.

Now that you know all that, it’s time to review some quality car chase scenes, some of which have even become cult.


mustang bullitt

Not the most spectacular chase, nor the most breathtaking, but certainly the absolute reference of the genre. I have already read that “Bullit is an 11-minute masterpiece nicely placed in the middle of a mediocre thriller”. That sentence pretty much sums up the film, which still deserves to be seen at least once in its entirety. The chase, on the other hand, has become cult over the years, and even won the Oscar for Best Editing on its own when the film was released. A Mustang and a Charger blasting through the steep streets of San Francisco, the V8s screeching as the only music, and cameras on board, that’s all that makes the salt in this scene.

James Bond 007: Quantum of Solace

James Bond 007: Quantum of Solace aston dbs

Much shorter than Bullits, this chase involving an Aston Martin DBS and two Alfa Romeo 159s serves as the film’s opening. Here we are again entitled to built-in cameras, well-promoted engine sounds and well-chosen music that serves the whole thing well. The great highlight of this pursuit, the hero is not invincible: Aston is animal from the beginning to the end of the scene. Excitement guaranteed! We could also have mentioned the pursuit of Spectre, Daniel Craig’s penultimate opus, but it turns out to be much less successful than Quantum of Solace. To mention just one fault, we can talk about the almost total absence of traffic (I find it hard to believe that there is so little traffic in Rome, even in the middle of the night…). Too bad, especially when you know that the director called on the same stuntman for both films.

Taxis 1 and 2

Cabin 1

Why only the first two games? Simply because the other two (what, do you consider the 5 a Taxi?) do too much and sometimes even abandon the car in favor of action scenes that are not really inspired. The first two, on the other hand, offer incredible, fast and well-filmed chases. Special mention to the first one, where two very angry Mercedes 500 E’s chased the mythical white 406 all over Marseille. Like what good chases aren’t reserved for American movies!


Ronin (1998)

This is a small Proust madeleine. A chase between a BMW 5 Series and a Peugeot 406 driven by Robert de Niro, with Jean Réno as passenger, all at full speed in the streets of Paris. What more? Especially since the scene is at times reminiscent of the chase in Bullit, with engines screeching to death, tires that are expensive from start to finish, and the almost total absence of music. A nugget, often unfairly undervalued. Have!

sheriff scares me

Sheriff scare me dodge charger 01

Everyone knows the series from the 80s, but the movie released in 2005 made less waves. And yet it has an interesting chase. It’s clearly not the best in this ranking, but its different approach makes it worth a look. General Lee, the legendary orange Dodge Charger, crosses Atlanta up and down and above all across, pursued by all the police in the state. Stunts, squealing tires, another thundering V8, Choking at the wheel, all on AC/DC.

Baby driver

baby driver movie subaru

Here, too, the approach is special, but the reproduction is spectacular. As with Quantum of Solace, the main chase serves as the film’s opening. A red Subaru Impreza chased by hordes of police cars, incredible stunts and a super original soundtrack that sublimates the scene: the recipe is mouthwatering!

60 seconds flat

We end with that. The whole film is almost a chase. To quickly redo the topo, a team has to steal 50 cars, which naturally gives rise to anthology scenes. Anything goes, Jaguar XJ220, Porsche 911 Type 996, Shelby Cobra, without forgetting the Shelby GT500 aka Eleanor. A must see film for every car enthusiast. A sort of Fast & Furious 2.0, minus the redneck side, released in 2000.

We could have mentioned even others (Drive, Transporter 1, Mad Max, Terminator 2, Death Boulevard, Speed, Matrix Reloaded, Fast & Furious…), but you already have plenty to do with movie nights with friends. And for pure racing enthusiasts there are still the excellent Rush and Le Mans 66!

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