No matter what kind of films you like, everyone has to admit that they like a good car chase. Here’s my guide to 12 of the biggest petrolhead movies to hit the big screen.
Days of Thunder
The first of three films to feature Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman, Days of Thunder follows Cole Trickle’s (Cruise) road to becoming a successful NASCAR driver. When he is injured in a race, he falls in love with his doctor (Kidman). The final sequence sees Trickle perform his signature move but in reverse to win the Daytona 500.
Produced by Pixar, Cars is completely animated and set in a world of anthropomorphic vehicles. Lightening McQueen is the rookie in the Piston Cup racing championships when he accidentally finds himself in the run down Radiator Springs. After spending some time there, he learns some important lessons and, although not winning his final race, he helps another car to cross the finish line.
Gone in 60 Seconds
Gone in 60 Seconds follows “Memphis” return to his old business of stealing cars to order. He is given 50 cars that an English crime boss wants within 72 hours. The stealing of the final car, a Shelby Mustang, results in a high-speed chase along Miami’s Long Beach between Memphis and the police. Despite stealing all the cars they are delivered 12 minutes late and when Memphis saves the life of a police officer, he is let off his other crimes.
Crash (1996) tells the story of a group of people who become sexually aroused from watching or being involved in car accidents. Although showing car chases and accidents throughout the film, the finale starts with a main characters death and another couple realising that the logical end to their fetish is possibly death. Despite receiving mixed reviews, the film is included as a top 50 movie of three different polls.
Most famous for its car chases throughout the street of San Fransicso, Bullitt staring Steve McQueen tells the story of the mob, hitmen, mistaken identity and dirty cops. The cars reach over 100 mph and chase scenes took three weeks to film resulting in just over nine minutes worth of footage. Time magazine has voted it among 15 of the greatest ever movie car chases.
The Gumball Rally
Based on the Canonball Dash, The Gumball Rally starts in New York and finishes in California, the only rules are that you must not travel over 55 mph with no catalytic converter. The story follows the trials and tribulations experienced by drivers along the way, as well as an LAPD officer who attempts to apprehend them. Despite all arriving safely, police cars surround the vehicles for parking illegally at which point the race back to New York is announced.
The Italian Job
You were only supposed to blow the bloody doors off!” It may feature minis, but The Italian Job is one massive car chase. Attempting to rob Fiat of gold and smuggle it out of the country, Caine and his gang driver through sewers, down steps and inside buildings. In celebration of a job well done and the gold in the back of the van, a skid causes the van to teeter over the cliff edge. Who knows the fate of the gold, van or is occupants.
Following Kowalski (Barry Newman) as he delivers a 1970 Dodge Challenger to San Fransisco, Vanishing Point finally ends with his death when he drives through a Police roadblock in California. However, on his journey, Kowalski, a former police officer, is supported by Super Soul on his radio station and names him “the last American hero”.
Ryan O’Neal steals get away cars for big criminals and it is the detective’s job to catch “The Driver”. So obsessed with catching him, the detective sets up a bank job as a chance to arrest him. Referenced in Pulp Fiction and Kill Bill: Vol 2, The Driver is heavily influenced by Jean-Pierre Melville’s film, La Samouraï.
Frank Martin (Jason Statham) is a driver for hire and will driver anything, anywhere in the film ‘The Transporter’. Martin’s only rule is he doesn’t want to know what’s in the back. The Transporter decides to break his rule and opens a package to see what it is, a lady. There is murder, car chases, fire and bombs. All in a days work for some people.
Too Fast Too Furious
Too Fast Too Furious features Honda Civic’s, Toyota Supra’s and Mazda RX-7′s. It details the undercover street racing scene and undercover cop, Brian O’Connor enters an illegal race but looses. This enables him to gain the respect of the “leader” (Vin Diesel) whom he flees with when the police arrive. Action packed but will Brian reveal his true colours?
Featuring footage from the actual 170 Le Mans 24-hour race, Le Mans, starring Steve McQueen, is historically accurate with regard to racing at that time. The first word of the film isn’t spoken until 35 minutes in and despite initially being received poorly by the American public, due to their lack of knowledge of the Le Mans race, the film now has a massive cult following due to the real footage which is hard to replicate using CGI and stunt doubles. With a distinct lack of storyline, the film mainly focuses on the sounds of the iconic Porsche 917s and Ferrari 512s.
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