Top Five… alternative car chases


The French Connection? Forget it. Bullitt? Boring. Ronin? Tell the truth: did it look for one second like De Niro was driving? Here are the truly great movie car chases. Strap in and enjoy the ride.

5. The Driver

Not only do you feel like Ryan O’Neal is driving the car, you feel like you’re right there in the passenger seat with him, in this rollicking night pursuit from Walter Hill’s 1978 film, originally conceived, incidentally, for Bullitt boy Steve McQueen. This chase drips with sweaty authenticity – yes, it is undeniably cool, but there is nothing in it that’s unnecessarily flash. The Driver (none of the characters have real names) even turns back the way he came from at one point. If you really want to learn how to outrun cops, this is the one to study.

4. Condorman

This car chase, in contrast, is just pure nonsensical fun. Condorman (Michael Crawford) may not be as cool as James Bond, but anyone who can escape five Porsches in a vehicle shaped like a bird is a true superhero. The only chase in the list in which a car transforms into a hovercraft, it begins at 5m00.

Click HERE to watch the end of the chase.

3. Freaky Friday

The remake of Freaky Friday with Jamie Lee Curtis and Lindsay Lohan was more than a match for its 1976 predecessor, but it didn’t have an end sequence as good as this. While Barbara Harris is waterskiiing, Jodie Foster drives us through one of the great comedy chases, complete with cop cars driving over a footbridge (1m15),  a cop car being squashed into a triangle (3m00) and a cop car being sawn in half (3m25). Freaky is putting it mildly. The stunts take place in that great chase location – the Sixth Street Viaduct in Los Angeles, the setting for the drag race in Grease and the truck/dirt bike battle in Terminator 2: Judgment Day.

2. Raising Arizona

When you think of the Coen brothers’ work, car chases don’t immediately spring to mind. Their lightness of touch throughout the brilliant Raising Arizona makes what could have been a routine hold-up an absolute delight. Great dialogue (‘Son, you got a panty on your head’), great visuals (Nathan Jr holding on to the hood of his baby suit) and a great finish make this a chase to follow again and again.

1. What’s Up, Doc?

And here you have it: the best car chase in movie history. It’s that man Ryan O’Neal again, in a rather less smooth guise than The Driver, hanging on for dear life as Barbra Streisand drags him on a rollercoaster pursuit up and down the hills of San Francisco – the Mecca for car chase devotees. There is so much here to enjoy – the obligatory workmen carrying a pane of glass (1m40), the use of a Volkswagen Beetle (way cooler than a Mini), the screwball banter between the two leads and the textbook water climax.


home button1
Bookmark and Share


10 Responses to “Top Five… alternative car chases”

  1. Don’t know how many times I’ve seen Raising Arizona, but this is the first time I’ve noticed that the supermarket muzak (at about 4.48) is the same tune as the yodeling on the soundtrack. That’s why I love the Coen Bros!

  2. The greatest car chase ever – bar none, I’m not taking any shit on this one – is in Point Break, but, in true ‘alternative car chase’ stylee, the good stuff only happens once they get out of the car.

    Cars are shit. Good stuff always happens outside the car. Unless you’re drinking and having sex in your car, in which case you’re liable to be arrested and uncomfortable, and find yourself without a car/sex partner in the forseeable future.

    That scene:

  3. Paul the Ball Says:

    have to agree with you Markham, and good job finding that clip. Keanu chasing The Swayze… it doesnt get much better than that
    i do like the chase in Ronin, but i kinda like this one a bit better, mainly cos its so pointless – James Woods v Jeff Bridges…

  4. Top one of the Top fives, Ross v Ross.

    What’s Up, Doc? is a great call. This chase is always overlooked cos’ it’s not Keanu chasing Swayze enough, but it is superb.
    Good call on The Driver as well. Ryan O’ Neal not much of a dad but exceptional behind a wheel.

    Special mention to one of the Bourne films – they are all the same cannot remember which one – as well just for having a car chase around Moscow in which Matt Damon sees off England fast bowler Steve Harmison –

  5. Paul the Ball Says:

    ‘Ryan O’ Neal not much of a dad but exceptional behind a wheel.’ That puts you top of the commenters LOL count leaderboard, David.

  6. Thank you, Paul the Ball.

    Sad thing is O’Neal was a good actor – Paper Moon, The Main Event – as well as the two above and a fine looking lad, but….trying to pull your daughter at your girlfriend’s funeral, that’s ‘Daddie Dearest’ territory.

  7. Justin Michaels Says:

    Driving around evading cops…. cool
    Chatting up your offspring…. not cool

  8. Raising Arizona car chase is awesome, it’s got a couple awesome ones actually. Good call.

  9. …what about the stop and start almost anti-car chase from Way of The Gun or the rain soaked driver’s pov greatness of We Own The Night?

  10. Wait, does nobody remember the great car chase in William Friedkin’s
    ” To Live and Die in L.A ” ? It still holds up after all these years.
    And don’t forget, this was in 1985, so there’s no bad CGI added like in all the ” Fast & the Furious ” movies. Plus, when you watch it at’re going to see a side of William Petersen that you never saw on ” C.S.I ” …if you know what I mean.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: