Chase scenes are part of the formula which make a good action flick. During a high speed chase as a viewer you are bound to feel excited as you anxiously await with suspense to see how the chase culminates. When most people think of the best movie car chase scenes, they think crashes, destruction, and high speed. While it’s true these attributes make a good car chase scene, there are also some other unconventional chase scenes which deserve a rank in the “best” chase scenes.
Even though these unconventional scenes typically don’t fall into the traditional ideology of a good car chase scene, they are worth mentioning. When thinking about the “best”, these kinds of car chase scene, there are a few other types of “chase” scenes that shouldn’t be overlooked because they do create an element of suspense and provide excitement to further move the plot.
(Note: Some videos are from movies rated “R” and are not suitable for all audiences)
A Mix of Some of the Best Iconic Movie Chase Scenes
1. Blues Brothers
This movie is probably one of the most famous chases in cinematic history. In fact, most of the movie is a long car chase. As Jake is released from jail and picked up by his brother Elwood, this begins the brothers’ journey of being chased by pretty much all who’ve they have crossed paths with and subsequently ticked off. Between police, Illinois chapter of Nazis, club owners, country-western singers and a very angry ex-girlfriend, the duo have many people to run from.
It’s hard to fathom how many cars must have been wrecked in those final scenes when Jake and Elwood were racing to the Cook’s County Tax Assessor to get there in time to pay the taxes on the orphanage as they desperately tried to complete their “mission from God”.
Considering this movie was made before the high tech special effects could be added makes it even more incredible. It had excitement, speed, mass destruction, squealing tires, a leap across a bridge; all the makings of a fantastic car chase scene.
2. Thelma and Louise
As this duo fled to escape from the law after Louise commits a murder to save Thelma from an attempted rape, these two make tracks and are in it together for the long haul. They spent most of the movie on the run, but the pivotal point comes when the two fugitives know their time has run out. So what do they do? The only thing they could of course, take a free fall. In order to save themselves from being caught by the law, they drove right over the cliff and straight into the Grand Canyon. How’s that for a climatic ending to a car chase?
This movie was pretty weak for the most part considering it was based on the extension of a hit song in the 1970s. While the dialogue was lacking as much as most of the scenes, the setting where Kris Kristofferson’s lead character, “The Duck”, was being chased by police cars and encircled with no way out. As a solution, “The Duck” drove his highly flammable truck right through the blockades and barreled through anything in his way which led him to a bridge where he drove off. This was the best part of the movie, aside from it being a pivotal moment (and it’s pretty violent) as it came to its climatic point, it signaled the movie was finally almost over.
4. Close Encounters of the Third Kind
As Jillian and Roy race a rented station wagon with the objective to reach to the flat topped mountain, Devil’s Tower, they encounter what they are led to believe to be dead animals across the side of the road. Worried for their own safety, but more intrigued on what’s been pulling them to Wyoming and to find Jillian’s young son they frantically race against the government and against time.
The station wagon crashes through herds of animals, fenced off roads and pastures and eventually through a barricade put up by the government in order to bring them closer to their destination; all the while eluding the Army and law enforcement. For a 1970s movie, this was a pretty good car chase scene which integrated quite well into the bigger plot picture.
5. Terminator 2
As Arnold’s Terminator attempts to lead Sarah and John Connor to safety, that T-1000 just doesn’t let up. As the audience is shown crash upon crash, that shiny silver creature just keeps morphing itself and coming back for more. As a ball of fire from an exploded vehicle is brightly illuminating the highway, you guessed it, out emerges T-1000 without so much as a scratch. Another scene shows the T-1000 being involved in a crash with frozen liquid that makes the cyborg fall apart. Yet suddenly, all is not what it seems…
6. Smokey and the Bandit
This movie had all the makings of a good car chase scene. The plotline revolved around speed as the two main characters were making the attempt to get a truckload of alcohol. For its time this movie consisted of many great chase scenes with that shiny black Firebird which made it one of the most popular cars of the day. Essentially, the entire movie is a long car chase.
7. Foul Play
This movie starring Chevy Chase and Goldie Hawn spent a lot of time chasing and being chased on foot, but their car scene of Chase’s character commandeering a taxi was classic. As they thrashed over the bumps and hilly terrain of San Francisco streets with the two tourists from Japan in the back seat, this scene was a hoot and deserves a rank. While they weren’t theoretically in a chase against another car, they were engaged in a high speed chase against time to get to that opera house. This scene had all the makings of a classic memorable chase scene.
8. Who Framed Roger Rabbit?
As private detective Eddie Valiant desperately tries to save a falsely accused Roger Rabbit from a murder charge, he is forced to enter “Toon Town”. Throughout the adventures in his investigation, at one point he and Roger become engaged in a chase scene with the weasels with Eddie driving a cartoon taxi. This movie contained both live action and animated scenes, and this car chase scene was a perfect integration of both and makes for a pretty funny and exciting scene.
9. Back to the Future II
With futuristic space age vehicles up against modern time ideology, it’s fascinating to watch Marty McFly and “Doc” out smart Biff as once again he ultimately ends up crashing into a truck full of manure after chasing Marty on his hoverboard. Apparently, the future still hauls it and hasn’t yet discovered a way to use it in place of fossil fuels.
10. Gone with the Wind
OK not even involving a car, instead a horse and buggy, but I thought would fit as an honorable mention. As Scarlett O’Hara and Rhett Butler make a dash to escape from Atlanta during Sherman’s siege, this was a pivotal moment. For the characters it was terrifying and for the audience it had all of the good makings of a good chase scene. As the two try to flee Sherman and his troops, the audience watched with anticipation as burning buildings fell, horses too scared to budge and a newly born baby lying with his ill mama in the bottom of the wagon. Not to mention a war and gunfire going on all around them. The mad scurry to get outta town as the two bicker through their feelings for each other can be remembered as one of best classic “chase” scenes of all time.
Chase scenes are a staple in movies. While some may be traditionally oriented by bad guy chasing good guy or vice versa, these aren’t the only kinds of chase scenes worth remembering. Many of the unconventional scenes are just as noteworthy when discussing the best chase scenes, even if they don’t involve another person or a motor vehicle.
Leigh has been writing on the web since 2007. She has a high interest in business, tech, higher education, and Washington D.C. and Northern Virginia travel, but loves to write about a variety of topics. In addition to writing on Writedge, she also runs a blog about the Washington DC Metro Area and a photography blog Photos by Leigh Goessl.