Thursday, May 20, 2010

Car Chase

Today's post from Scriptshadow mentioned making your car chase original. I have to thank Carson for that, because it got me thinking about my current project and the car chase set right at the beginning. His point was that we've seen everything under the sun when it comes to car chases so you really have to think of something neat to make yours stand out. He mentioned the chase in Deja Vu.

My favorite car chase is probably from We Own the Night. The movie was okay but not brilliant, but the car chase was spectacular. If you haven't seen the film, Joaquin Phoenix' character is in a car following his dad and he watches the car chase through the rain and fog on his windshield. It's blurry and fast and you only get glimpses of what's going on and when a really dramatic moment comes you - or I did, anyway - physically gasp. I felt the powerlessness the character must have felt.

I had a hard time thinking of other car chases that were super awesome and then I remembered.

Terminator 2. That's all I'm going to say. Terminator 2.

Everybody raves about The Bourne Identity car chase but I just saw that as your standard chase with shakey cam. I guess Bullet was cool when it came out, but I had a hard time getting into it since the movie was not really that interesting up to that point.

So I started thinking about my story and the relationship between my protagonists and, well, I don't really have any original ideas on fancy car maneuvers or any fancy camera tricks, but I do have an interesting relationship going on in the car. Then I realized that's my trick. It's what's going on inside the car that will add a creative element to my car chase. And if it's what's in the car that's cool, I don't even have to show as much of what's outside the car, which means my budget comes down.

So phase one of low budget - awesome part for actor - totally commercial but still clever action chase comedy is complete.

What's your favorite car chase?


  1. The car chase in "We Own the Night" is awesome. Not a great film though.

    I love the car chase at the end of "Death Proof."

  2. I liked the Bourne Identity car chase because they abused the hell out of that little car.

    Raiders because of that nifty under the car lashed to the axle bit.

    The Blues Brothers because they were on a mission from God. And the complete carnage.

    The Transporter because he was so detail oriented about it all. Especially the opening scene with the bank robbers.

    That's all I can think of off the top of my head. None of them are very original choices, but they do stand out in my mind.

  3. Hillary the Happy Hooker9:34 PM

    The French Connection and Running Scared pop into mind.

  4. Anonymous9:46 PM

    Sorry Emily, but I gotta go with "Bullit." Maybe it's me, but I actually LIKE those detached flicks from the late 60s through the early 70s.

  5. Ronin probably tops my list. I'm also pretty fond of the vehicle work in both versions of The Italian Job.

  6. Blues Brothers is fantastic - they set a record for destroying cars.

    Ronin's final car chase is epic. Balletic. Technically probably the best ever filmed. Frankenheimer was really a master.

    But I do think that the car chase in We Own the Night may be the most emotionally effective, and the best narrative.

  7. Ronin and French Connection.

  8. instant_karma5:36 AM

    Always liked this one -

  9. Anonymous10:11 AM

    C'mon people - The Rock! Nice nod to The Italian Job. I really like that movie, probably more than I should. Also - Gone in 60 Seconds was generally lame (right?!), but the last car chase was fun.

  10. Does French Connection have a car chase? I only remember the foot chase.

    And goodness yes, of course. How could I forget the Blues Brothers.

  11. Anonymous12:18 PM

    Re the French Connection, it's a car chasing the elevated train.

  12. Huh. I do not remember that at all. I just remember him jumping back and forth in the subway.

  13. Anonymous12:54 PM

    And I'm angry with myself for forgetting a movie called, "The Seven-Ups." Which beside being a pretty good cop/action movie has one of the best all-time car chases in it. Which should figure since Bill Hickman was the stunt/actor driver.

  14. The chase in "Ronin," too, but also the one in "To Live and Die in L.A" (when the drug bust goes wrong and an undercover cop is killed).

  15. Anonymous1:22 PM

    From the French Connection:

    Filmed as one single scene, without closing the streets. Pretty cool.

  16. Anonymous1:28 PM

    From a "Top-Ten car Chases" movie list compiled by MSNBC (last time I'll put in my pitch for French Connection. I promise):

    “The French Connection” (1971). Without its nerve-wrackingly real chase sequence, filmed on New York streets, William Friedkin’s surprise box-office smash might not have collected Oscars for best picture, director and film editing (by Jerry Greenberg). Friedkin claimed the chase was edited to the music of Santana; perhaps that explains why it remains uniquely engaging. It’s definitely got rhythm.

  17. I don't doubt that there is a car chase. I just don't remember the car chase.

  18. Does Raising Arizona count?


    I also loved the 'car chase' in North by Northwest when Thornhill, drunk, is chased by the police.

  20. Most of the good ones were mentioned already--BULLITT, THE FRENCH CONNECTION, RONIN, DEATH PROOF, TO LIVE AND DIE IN L.A. THE SEVEN UPS is an example of an absolutely amazing scene in what I always thought was a pretty so-so movie. At the very least, it has the best ending of any chase scene.

    Going back to the 70s, SMOKEY AND THE BANDIT and DIRTY MARY CRAZY LARRY are practically chase scenes that last the entire film but I guess they deserve mention.

    And from an Italian film called THE ITALIAN CONNECTION, among many other titles, here's a pretty fantastic chase scene that Tarantino has called one of the best ever:

  21. Anonymous9:31 PM

    When I posted my link to the French Connection car chase, I mentioned Bill Hickman. He was stunt driver/actor in:

    French Connection
    The Seven Ups

    Another cool car chase movie scene is in, It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World

  22. They've already been mentioned, but the best car chase scenes of all time are:

    To Live and Die in LA
    French Connection
    Death Proof

  23. "Live and Let Die", a killer boat chase, but Buford T. Justice's car is involved. And Jane Seymour is to die for in this flick, I think that was my first serious crush.


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