From beautiful cars to screeching tyres and breathtaking stunts, there’s nothing quite like a car chase to get the pulse racing. Here we take a look at the eight greatest chases in movie history, so read on to see if your favourite made the final cut.
Is there any other place to start? This list would have no credibility whatsoever without this entry, where the legendary Steve McQueen sets the streets of San Francisco alight in his indomitable style. With lashings of smoke and squeals coming from the tyres of the iconic actor’s Mustang as he tears up and down the city’s atmospheric streets, Bullitt serves up everything you could ever want from a car chase.
The Man with the Golden Gun
From the coolest man to ever grace the big screen, James Bond is known for his action-packed car chases, and there are plenty of hair-raising examples of 007 pushing the limits of his gadget-laden wheels. However, the most recognisable sequence must be Roger Moore’s daredevil corkscrew jump across a river in the Man with the Golden Gun - we’re even willing to forgive that awful sound effect.
The French Connection
With its revolutionary in-car and dash cam footage that brings you right to the heart of the chase, Gene Hackman’s portrayal of Popeye Doyle in the French Connection will leave you breathless. A giant among car chases where our protagonist hunts down a nefarious shooter on a train, this is a truly thrilling scene.
The Italian Job
Just a quick hop over the Alps and we’re off to Italy with the one and only Michael Caine many moons before he became a knight of the realm. Not a lot of people know that The Italian Job was the catalyst for all-out MINI customisation, as the Mini Cooper became ridiculously popular after the film so people wanted their motor to stand out from the crowd!
Gone in 60 Seconds
While Angela Jolie and Nicholas Cage helped revive this famous name at the turn of the millennium, our vote on this list goes to the 1974 original. Written, directed, produced by and starring H.B. Halicki, Gone in 60 Seconds sees the destruction of some 93 cars and features a chase that spans six Californian cities and lasts for 40 minutes.
Next up we’re tearing through the streets of Paris in a manner that’s very much at odds with the city’s reputation for romance. Unless, of course, you’re in love with roaring engines and high-speed thrills. Robert De Niro and Natascha McElhone are the stars behind the wheels of the screeching cars, swotting away police cars and cutting other road users up like something from your worst nightmare drive to work.
Dirty Mary, Crazy Larry
If this film has a somewhat intriguing end, then the finale is sure to be a shocker. We won’t spoil it here, but it’s no surprise that there’s lots of action to get stuck into with this 1974 classic. Peter Fonda plays the part of Larry Rayder, an aspiring NASCAR driver who decides to take a different road in life when he extorts a serious wedge of cash from a supermarket manager. Alongside Dirty Mary herself, he goes on the run in a lime green Dodge Charger in an effort to evade police cars and even a helicopter.
The Fast and the Furious
A franchise that catapulted the tried and tested car chase to stratospheric new levels, the Fast and Furious films position the cars front and centre. In 2001’s first instalment we’re treated to one of the most exhilarating sequences ever shot by our friends in Tinseltown, as Paul Walker and Vin Diesel conquer a moving train in their quest for supremacy before a truck intervenes for a dramatic finale.