Last week we discussed arguably the two most famous car chases in cinema history. Those films, from the late ’60s and early ’70s, respectively, still work because the stunt work relied on the daring of human drivers and the real danger found from actual high speeds and fast cars. Some contemporary films retain those classics’ sense of danger but add sophisticated new methods of filming, creating even more spectacular chase sequences than could have been previously conceived of. Here’s a couple examples.
Ronin: Though it doesn’t win any points for great writing, this 1998 film shines whenever the characters get behind the wheel. Among the expertly choreographed car chases featured, the final sequence is particularly exciting as Robert DeNiro chases his target through the narrow, winding streets, dark tunnels and high speed expressways of Paris.
Death Proof: Quentin Tarantino’s 2007 ode to the road films of the ’60s and ’70s is undoubtedly his weakest effort, but for 12 glorious minutes during the climactic car chase the whole movie builds to, it’s the most harrowing and effective thing he’s ever filmed. While being pursued by a psychotic Kurt Russell, a second car tries to outrun their antagonizer with stuntwoman Zoë Bell clinging for life on the hood. Why she is and stays on the hood doesn’t really make sense, but it leads to a brilliantly terrifying sequence that no other film can match in pure white knuckle tension.