I have always been enticed by the chase scene, dreaming of one day making a film that is a relentless series of chases from beginning to end.
Chase scenes require ingenuity and detail and are, like science fiction films, frequently a letdown. That said, there are a few great chase scenes, like the 1968 film Bullitt that stand above the rest.
5. Midnight Express (Alan Parker, 1979) Billy Hayes is arrested for drug smuggling in 1970s Turkey and tries to escape police in an Istanbul marketplace. This chase scene utilizes the basics – music, crowds, close-ups – effectively, creating a genuine tension that is hard to achieve.
4. The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (Wes Anderson, 2004) A homage/parody of Jacques Cousteau’s exploits. This rescue scene from the pirates is unforgettable specifically for its subtelty in music and camera angles.
3. The French Connection (1971, William Friedkin) New York cop Popeye Doyle battles drug dealers. Many aspects of this film are dated; however the iconic chase scene will never go out of date.
2. Terminator III: Rise of the Machines (Jonathan Mostow, 2003) The third installment of the franchise that documents machines coming back in time to kill a future revolutionary hero. The chase scene between an industrial crane and fire truck is notable for its epic destruction – including a crushed bouncy playpen – and its consistent sense of humor.
1. Ronin (John Frakenheimer, 1998) Professional crooks chase after each other through France to secure a briefcase with a secret. The car chase goes through Paris and features a remarkable sense of detail – securing a seat belt halfway through the mayhem – as well as unmatched tension when it crosses lanes and goes the wrong way onto the highway.