There’s nothing like a car chase, right? Some of the most memorable scenes in the movie have been car chases – the euphoria, the excitement, and the smell of gasoline! If only there were scratch ‘n’ sniff cinemas …
Many car chases seen in movies today are enhanced through the use of computer generated imagery (CGI), although the classic car chases that stick to memory were those that were authentically filmed – gritty, not polished: exactly how a car chase should be.
A car chase gets the juices flowing and really leaves a lasting memory with the viewer. So much so that many movie fans have left the movies and gone straight to buy the latest Aston Martin (in their dreams), or more realistically at least a used Mini.
A favorite car chase is Robert De Niro’s 1998 film Ronin, which featured a gigantic chase in which a Peogeot 406 was chased by a BMW 535i through the streets of Nice. Watching them speed through tunnels dodging oncoming traffic left me clutching the seat of my pants.
In terms of quantity, Gone in 60 Seconds – not the Vinny Jones-starring remake, but the 1974 original – holds the record for the longest car chase ever seen in a movie, spanning 40 minutes and inducing 93 accidents.
A more iconic movie, Bullitt, starring the late great Steve McQueen, sees McQueen as cop Frank Bullitt and features a fantastic scene where he races his Mustang against a Dodge Charger through the streets of San Francisco.
Of the most recent films, The Bourne Supremacy triumphed with a convincing chase through the cobblestone streets of Moscow. And Quentin Tarrantino’s Death Proof revolved entirely around Kurt Russell, brilliantly portraying a crazed stuntman turned assassin targeting his prey, namely young women, with his ‘Death Proof’ stunt car – a Dodge. Challenger from the ’70s. The chase scene with stuntman Zoe Bell clinging to the hood of a car as’ Stuntman Mike’ hits the car from all angles is as terrifying as it is brilliantly filmed.
And who can forget the stacking of the Blues Brothers: dozens of police cars one on top of the other, with the Bluesmobile leaving them behind.
But the most iconic car chase in movie history has to be the Italian Job. The Mini, a threefold British classic, racing stripes and all, speeding through Turin, hauling gold bricks from a wonderfully planned heist scene.
This was Michael Caine, in his prime, as Charlie Croker, a criminal mastermind who orchestrates ‘work’ by jamming the midday traffic of Turin and finding the best way out of that gridlock: by using three Mini Cooper’s.
The Italian Job was a huge hit in theaters in Europe and across the Atlantic. Mini saw a huge increase in sales, and used Minis began to depreciate less and less due to their popularity, especially the Mini Cooper.
In 2003, the Italian job was redone, largely due to the reinvention of the Mini by BMW. The remake starring Mark Wahlberg, Jason Statham, and Ed Noton followed a similar plot, but with the main car chase set in Los Angeles, using three Mini Cooper S roaring through the city, including through the Metro.
Once again, Mini sales and used Mini sales increased and many experts suggested that the success of the Italian work is a rationale for the Mini’s continued popularity. And it really makes sense – I challenge you to watch any of the Italian work without wanting to get behind the wheel of a Mini.
We can all dream of an Aston Martin, but the most viable option can sometimes be just as fun. After all, there is a Charlie Croker in all of us, not in terms of his criminal mind, but in terms of his enthusiasm for speed and excitement. And who hasn’t dreamed of doing an Italian job when stuck in traffic on the way to work on a Monday morning?