Home Entertainment Top List Thursdays – 10 Greatest Movie Car Chases

Top List Thursdays – 10 Greatest Movie Car Chases

6 min read

Now I may not be what you would call a petrolhead, but boy I do love me some on-screen vehicular mayhem. There’s something about a well choreographed car chase that just, pardon the brain cell destroying pun, revs my engines.

And today I’m giving you my 10 favourite bits of cinematic driving destruction!

The Master Touch

This is a film that that may not be as widely known as the others on this list, and while most of the 112 min running time of the Kirk Douglas drama is not all that memorable, this 6 minute car chase certainly is. It begins pretty standard, just guys driving after each other real fast, but as the chase goes on it just keeps getting more extreme, eventually reaching a stunt that would probably only have been attempted with CGI today. Unluckily for the stunt drivers back in 1972, they had to do it for real!

The Matrix Reloaded

The converse of the previous entry, this second installment in the Wachowski’s science fiction trilogy uses every computer generated trick in the digital created book to pull off this chase scene. But just because most of it only exists on a hard drive somewhere (well, you know, except for that entire freaking highway that they built for it!), it doesn’t make it any less exhilarating. Also, this may be the greatest Chrysler commercial ever made.

Mad Max II: The Road Warrior

When it comes to pure crazy visual aesthetic, there aren’t many chase scenes that can match up to Mel Gibson’s Mad Max. Featuring a plethora of various stunts, this final scene in the film is more of a battle than a chase, with action happening behind, beside, on top of and even in front of the tanker that Max is driving.

*Unfortunately I have been unable to find a clip of the entire scene online, but here’s the first 4.5 minutes

The Blues Brothers

Holding the record at the time of its release for the most police cars destroyed in a film, this chase from Dan Ackroyd and the late John Belushi’s Blues Brothers is a study in absurd, high speed carnage. And director John Landis’ great use of the bumper and bonnet cam takes the view right into the centre of all that chaos, to great effect.

The film’s record would eventually be broken in 2000 though. But by none other it’s own sequel.

*I know this rubbish pirated cam clip, but it’s the only complete one I could find online

Gone in 60 Seconds

I know some purists would have you think otherwise, but this original 1974 movie, upon which the 2000 Nicolas Cage and Angeline Jolie remake is based, is actually pretty crap. Written, directed, produced and starred in by stunt driver H.B. Halicki, the first hour of this film is filled with horrendous dialogue and a laughable script. Halicki and his co-stars (who are actually his real life friends and family) turn in performances more wooden than what you would see at a marionnete show.

But then you get to that nearly 40 minute long chase scene, the longest ever put on film, and all that amateurish rubbish is suddenly forgotten.

*Because it’s so long, the scene has been broken up into 4 pieces


This is actually a bit of cheating, as this is not a chase scene, but rather a chase movie. But hey, I make the rules around here! Steven Spielberg’s very first feature film has one of the simplest plots you could think of: Guy cuts off a trucker on a mountain pass, trucker then spends the next 90 mins trying to catch up to him and drive him off the road to his death. There are no fancy pyrotechnics, no big budget spectacle, hell, sometimes they’re not even driving all that fast. But what Spielberg does manage to do though is give you some of the most tense sequences, in or out of a car, that you will ever experience!

And nobody has any excuse not to experience what is easily one of the greatest works from one greatest living directors, as the entire film is now available for viewing online.

Bourne Supremacy

That title above should actually read “The Bourne Trilogy” as every single one of the movies featured incredible car chases, from the nimble acrobatics of the Mini in The Bourne Identity, to having us realize that the boot of a car made a perfect battering ram and that seatbelts really do save lives in The Bourne Ultimatum. But it’s this chase in the second film that really stands out for me. Never was director Paul Greengrass’ frenetic direction style better suited, and I also just loved how they eschewed the standard gun or fist fight finale and instead went for an explosive car chase to end the movie.


Arguably the first of the great modern car chase scenes, this 9 minute entry (split in 2 below) in Steve McQueen’s Bullit would long be considered the benchmark against which all future car chases would be measured. Taking three weeks to film and featuring pinpoint precision driving from not only the stunt drivers, but also the racing enthusiast actor himself, the scene would go on to immortalize the hilly streets of San Francisco and spawn a multitude of copycats.


Veteran director John Frankenheimer may have let the unnecessarily convoluted plot of Ronin mar the film a bit, but there was certainly not a single thing out of place on what is easily the movie’s highlight. Utilizing all the skills he honed on his 1968 film Grand Prix, Frankenheimer set about creating a modern car chase that incorporated elements from all of the greats: incredible stunt driving, tense set pieces, narrow and winding roads, busy freeways, and even a bazooka (hey,why not?). All of which resulted in a complex, high speed, game of steel and death that had you gripping your seat in white knuckled fervour.

The French Connection

The French Connection is an impressive movie in many regards. Garnering a whole host of awards upon its release, including 5 Oscars (Best Picture, Best Direct, Best Actor, Best Editing, Best Screenplay), and launching the career of Gene Hackman, it will also go down in cinema history as boasting one of, if not the most impressive car chase sequences ever captured. And what makes this scene so special is not fancy explosions or high wire stunts (of which there really isn’t any), but rather the fact that it was completely real.

Director William Friedkin received no permission from the city, nobody in the neighbourhood was notified about the scene, and the only preparation was a police siren placed in the car. The entire thing was shot in a single take, as they were literally trying to outrace the police who were probably on their way to arrest them. None of the driving is scripted at all, and as the car narrowly misses pedestrians, you can see the stunt driver clenching his steering-wheels with bone-white knuckles.

That’s because those really are real life pedestrians! That part where Gene Hackman hits another car and careens off? That was just some innocent guy on his way to work that morning!

Crazy, I tell ya!

*Unfortunately it seems almost impossible to find this clip online, much less an embeddable version of it, so click the image below to take you to the best I could do

Last Updated: June 14, 2012


  1. Oldvideogamer

    June 14, 2012 at 14:04

    Bullet except no substitute. No music, bad continuity, hub cap flies into the camera, 70s porno music kicks in at the end and the sound of that growling FORD makes my loin tingle just thinking about it.

    Mix that in with the polo necked Steve and you have the greatest 10minute car chase of all time PERIOD.


    • Oldvideogamer

      June 14, 2012 at 14:10

      Oh and another thing that is very important is the camera was mounted so you can feel…you get that? FEEL the chase.

      Not that Bourn Identity crap when the camera man is having an epileptic fit every 2 seconds. I hate that shit:( The less camera takes the better.

      Deathproof is a close second;)


      • Kervyn Cloete

        June 14, 2012 at 14:56

        Well, the difference is that Bullit is a car scene with some action, whereas Bourne is an action sequence using cars. Well, at least, I’d like to think so 🙂

        Besides, different strokes and all that. Some people consider Vanishing Point to be one of the best as well, but I just never took a liking to it.


      • Slade Boender

        June 14, 2012 at 15:16

        Im going to have to side with you on this in a big way, but some unwarranted suggestions… Matrix, Bourne, Mad Max. More surprised theres no Transporter and i’ll probably get shot for this but GI Joe did have one of the biggest budgets/most cars destroyed, for their car chase and just that fact alone should get commendation. Then again maybe im just a classless bastard but be that as it may LOL

        I dont think you can have an objective “best ten” list anyways, but fairly pleased to see Bullitt, but even more so by the inclusion of the Blues Brothers


  2. Geoffrey Tim

    June 14, 2012 at 14:07

    Was going to come here and throw all my toys around if that scene from Bullit wasn’t in. You’re safe, for now. 


  3. Nathan Horne

    June 14, 2012 at 14:16

    I also like the chase scene at the end of Death Proof (but I’m sure it gets all it’s shots from Bullit, Vanishing Point and many other car movies.

    I recently watched Drive and also really liked the car chase in the middle of the movie. Very realistic.

    Cool list!


    • James Francis

      June 14, 2012 at 15:31

      I thought Drive was a missed opportunity. It had greatness in it, but never quite went all the way.


  4. Kervyn Cloete

    June 14, 2012 at 15:09

    There was a problem with the video for Duel, but it should be sorted now.


  5. James Francis

    June 14, 2012 at 15:38

    Two thumbs for Gone In 60 Seconds. People always name the other films on this list (the exception being Duel – nice touch), but never this classic. You’re right – it’s a poor movie, especially with some scenes where they just shot people doing stuff and added dialogue over it as a narration. 

    But then you reach the halfway mark and BANG! – arguably the best car chase scene ever filmed. They wrecked an insane amount of cars in that. The crash in the Cadillac dealership was real and expensive. So was the one where he clips the pole – that put Halicki in hospital for six months. 

    Bullitt is a close contender, but no movie has come close to matching that fantastic piece of car-chase porn. If anything its poor story and such are telling that all Halicki wanted was a serious car chase film. He paid for it, made it and changed chase scenes forever. 

    But not a single racing-themed movie? How about giving Grand Prix an honourable mention?


    • Kervyn Cloete

      June 14, 2012 at 15:57

      Yeah, as soon as I started on this, I realized that I kind of shot myself in the foot when I decided to do just 10.
       My “Honourable Mentions” list would have been a whole other post on it’s own: Grand Prix, Death Proof, To Live and Die in LA, Cannonball Run, Terminator 2, The Italian Job (original), Dead Pool, The Seven Ups, Smokey and the Bandit etc etc.


  6. Pravesh Valab

    June 14, 2012 at 15:53

    Why was Smokey and the Bandit not in here.

    I’m kidding


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