The car chase is one of the staples of action cinema. To make one car chasing another car really exciting, the film’s director, the stunt team, and the editor have to fire on all cylinders. Impressive driving stunts are worthless if they’re ruined in the edit by clunky, incoherent cutting. Similarly, well-paced editing and clarity of movement are meaningless when the on-screen driving doesn’t have a tangible sense of danger.
From the groundbreaking, rubber-burning antics of Steve McQueen in Bullitt to Gene Hackman’s relentless pursuit of an elevated train in The French Connection, there have been a ton of iconic car chases throughout film history.
Heavily influenced by the gritty, minimalist crime films of Jean-Pierre Melville, John Frankenheimer’s Ronin uses its simplistic plot of a handful of rivaling intelligence officials fighting over a briefcase to deliver edge-of-your-seat thrills. Frankenheimer utilized hundreds of stunt drivers to get the car action in this movie just right.
The movie’s greatest car chase sequence sees Robert De Niro pursuing the bad guys’ BMW across the crowded streets of Paris in a humble Peugeot 406.
Set to the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion’s “Bellbottoms,” the opening car chase sequence in Baby Driver perfectly establishes the tone of Edgar Wright’s unique jukebox musical carsploitation action-comedy.
It tells the audience everything they need to know about the Baby character visually, the action is choreographed beautifully to the rhythm of the music, and there’s plenty of humor and impressive driving stunts along the way.
This is technically not a car chase, because it has a truck chasing a dirt bike (and later Arnie’s Harley-Davidson), but it’s more broadly a vehicular pursuit and it does have some impeccable driving stunts. As the T-1000 relentlessly chases John Connor down L.A.’s storm drain system, he’s rescued by a T-800 who proceeds to blow up the truck to allow them enough time to escape the fellow Terminator’s wrath.
In the most spectacular fashion possible, this sequence establishes both how the sequel is different than its predecessor (the T-800 is a protector in this one) and how it raises the stakes from the first movie (the T-1000 is much more advanced and powerful than the T-800).