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Adrenaline rush: Top 5 movie car chases

Blitz the popcorn - it's time for our favourite form of filmic thrill

Flame grilled for extra flavour

Flame grilled for extra flavour

Some of cinema’s most exhilarating, kinetic and downright inspiring moments have involved a car chase. Sit down, strap in and get ready to burn up some tarmac (if only vicariously) with these heart-pounding sequences of pure cinematic adrenaline.

Bullitt (1968) dir. Peter Yates

Playing cop-turned-bodyguard Frank Bullitt, Steve McQueen bumps, skids and smoulders across the wonderland terrain of San Francisco in hot pursuit of a black 1968 Dodge Charger in this film’s iconic chase sequence. Though it only takes up 10 minutes of Bullitt’s final running time, the chase took four weeks to film, with McQueen doing all his own driving in a 1968 Ford Mustang 390 GT2+2 Fastback.

Ronin (1998) dir. John Frankenheimer

Experience the terror of a rapid-action vehicle pursuit through Paris with a spectacle that took almost 300 stunt drivers in a series of shaky POV shots, skids, swerves and omniscient camera angles. With a former amateur racing driver as its director, the cars used in Ronin were driven at a breakneck 120 miles per hour, and over 80 were deliberately wrecked throughout the course of its production to produce its considerable thrills. Actors Robert de Niro and Jean Reno were required to be in shot for many of these sequences… it’s no wonder they look thoroughly shaken throughout!

Mad Max Fury Road (2015) dir. George Miller

In a post-apocalyptic world in which water and fuel are at a premium, a convoy of vehicles must make its way through a landscape ravaged by monstrous sandstorms, bloodthirsty gangs and twisted vehicles. Not so much a one-car battle as a two-hour, metal-on-metal war this confection of staggering visual effects is anything but a slow starter.

Death Proof (2007) dir. Quentin Tarantino

Movie magpie Tarantino lines his grindhouse nest with a number of 70s-inspired trinkets for this gritty exploitation road movie, including scratchy film, a glitch-tastic soundtrack and a roster of glorious retro cars. Death Proof sees three young women (including real-life stuntwoman Zoe Bell) pursued by psychopathic Stuntman Mike (Kurt Russell), then turning the tables on him in a fearless, unpredictable car chase which will leave your knuckles as white as its 1970 Dodge Challenger.

The French Connection (1971) dir. William Friedkin

This groundbreaking chase sequence follows detective Jimmy Doyle (Gene Hackman) as he pursues an elevated subway train in a brown Pontiac Le Mans – from a road directly underneath the tracks. Many segments of the chase were filmed without the proper permits to do so, which means that the sequence involved the drivers avoiding uncontrolled traffic and near misses with some extremely lucky pedestrians.

Consider yourself something of a thrillseeker? In collaboration with Capital FM, we’re giving away a prize that’s perfect for adrenaline addicts.

About the Author

Kirsty Leckie-Palmer

Staff writer at Arnold Clark

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