Monday, July 26, 2010

The Thrill is in the Chase

Great chase scenes in movies are, by and large, pretty established. You ask someone what their favorite chase scenes are and they'll likely mention the original Gone in 60 Seconds, Bullitt, or my personal favorite, The Great Chase from The Blues Brothers.

So where does that leave humanity? Where's the fun in writing about that? I would bet money that if someone asked you right now to list the best chases your list would look a lot like this one.

I stumbled upon a healthy bit of revelation this afternoon, and I will take it upon myself to compile a list of my favorite chase scenes, omitting the popular choices. I will do my best to stay away from car chases, but there are no guarantees. Videos will be provided if available. Here we go.


7.) Pirates of the Caribbean - The Curse of the Black Pearl, 2003



- This is about as non-traditional a chase scene as I could find, and it pulls double duty as being one of my favorites. Tension is built up successfully as our heroes desperately try and get away from the pirates. Unique on this list because it is rather slow and plodding because they are ships and not people running, it is filmed in such a way as to make the chase thrilling. The music is a big help, as I feel this was one of the best scored movies of all time. It also helps to have the great Geoffrey Rush as the villain the heroes are trying to flee from too.

6.) Jurassic Park, 1993


Please excuse the poor video, it is the only one I could find
- Yes, this is technically a 'car' chase, but how many car chases exist where the car is quite literally "the prey" and the predator is a Tyrannosaurus Rex? This is one of the most exhilarating parts of an already exhilarating movie and is wrapped up nicely with a snappy one-liner from everyone's favorite movie scientist, Jeff Goldblum.


Have fun trying to use the bathroom again


5.) Casino Royale, 2006



- The foot chase to end all foot chases, this one pits James Bond (Daniel Craig) against free-running bomb-maker Mollaka (S├ębastien Foucan) in a race that goes up cranes, through construction yards, and climaxes in a shootout in an embassy. Fun fact, S├ębastien Foucan ran so much faster than Daniel Craig that they would have to keep stopping because he was falling too far behind for the shots.

4.) Vertigo, 1958



- An oldie, but no less thrilling as a result, Hitchcock's Vertigo chase is the very first scene after the memorable credits and throws the audience right into the middle of two cops pursuing a criminal on a rooftop. We never find out who the guy is, but instead we follow Scottie as Hitchcock introduces the world to the dolly zoom visual effect. Two main questions I've always had, 1) If the cop is so willing to shoot the perp, why not just shoot him as he's climbing up the ladder at the beginning of the video? 2) How does Scottie get off that rooftop?

3.) The Evil Dead II, 1987



- This is technically two chases, but whatever. I absolutely love the way Sam Raimi films these point-of-view chases. The audience is the monster that Bruce Campbell's chin is running from, and the actual evil is never seen. We follow Ash, our hero, through the forest, in the house, through, over, and around doors and his car, and the whole time we're on the edge of our seats. I can't sing this movie's praises enough, truly a great chase in a great film.

2.) Heat, 1995

(Note: Embedding has been disabled for this clip, so all I can do is link it for you. Video can be found here)

- Holy shit, the street shootout from Heat? Awesome. Widely considered to be one of the greatest action scenes ever filmed, Michael Mann filmed this scene with the help of God himself (Thor was the sound guy) and graced us mere mortals with it in his classic film about Robert De Niro and Val Kilmer's bad hair going up against Al Pacino's hoo-ah.


I don't think Pacino nor the guns are nearly as loud as they should be in this movie


1.) Raiders of the Lost Ark, 1981



- Sorry I can't find a video online, but I'm pretty sure everyone knows what I'm talking about anyways. This truck chase is what I think of when I try and picture how someone could possibly film the word "adventure." Nazis? Check. Horse chasing truck? Check. Gunfire, fistfights, and ramming cars? Oh yeah, checks all over the place. This gets the number one spot on my alternative list for being the perfect pairing of music and action and pacing. Think about it: we just got done seeing a great fight scene at the airplane, and then Spielberg throws us right back into the fray with this chase. We can't even catch our breath and Indy gets up to run down a truck. Awesome scene in an awesome movie.

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