Car chases in film have become commonplace, especially in the action and thriller genres. They are now such a regular and anticipated feature, the film they are a part of is often judged somewhat by the quality of said chase. They can make or break a film and this is both because, and why, audiences and filmmakers alike put so much emphasis on them.
So what are the ingredients of a good chase? Is it fast, attractive cars; smooth, sexy drivers; a picturesque or danger-laden set; a technically and creatively adept crew? There are many staples of a successful car chase scene, but there are also more unconventional methods and ideas which have lent some car chase scenes that much needed sprinkle of ingenuity to make them stand out.
With a mix of old and new, classic and modern, thrilling and tense, here are my top 5 car chase scenes in cinematic history…
5. Ronin (1998)
Ronin is renowned for featuring some of the most accomplished car chase sequences in modern film. They are fast paced, with a heady mix of technical excellence and talented stuntwork – all amidst a glorious French backdrop.
For the chase scenes to look completely authentic, they were shot on location in Paris and Nice by director John Frankenheimer and involved hundreds of stunt-personnel and quite a few car wrecks.
There’s no surprise Ronin is held in such high regard when it comes to car chase sequences – by the time Ronin was released in 1998, Frankenheimer had already earned his place in car chase cinema heaven with Grand Prix (1966) and The French Connection (1975).
As well as the break-neck pace of Ronin’s car chases, it is the editing which really cements their status as some of the best ever. Whereas most filmmakers choose a particular style regarding shot-types to convey their thrills, in Ronin we are treated to everything all at once – from extreme close-ups of a gear stick being shifted, to a long shot of the cars swerving around the French streets.