Without car chases, what would action movies be? Boring, that's what.
The intense passenger-dodging, the adrenaline-inducing swerves, and totally unrealistic freeway pursuits are sometimes the best (and most fun) parts of our favorite action flicks.
Living vicariously through the likes of Vin Diesel and Steve McQueen, we play out our "Grand Theft Auto" fantasies as they chase down the bad guys and flee the cops. To celebrate these many crazy cinematic chases, we narrowed down the scenes that made us grip our seats the tightest and drop our jaws the most. Ranging from classic two-car pursuits to the utterly ridiculous (tanks, torpedoes, and Toys R Us -- you'll see), these chases have it all, and then some.
Gallery | The 11 Most Extreme Car Chases in Movie History
- ‘Fast & Furious 6’ (2013)
Every “Fast & Furious” movie takes car chases to another level, but “Fast & Furious 6” goes to mind-boggling extremes. Why is this scene so insane you ask? First of all, there's a giant tank blowing everything up and crushing cars to bits. Then Tyrese rides on top of a speeding car, Vin Diesel magically avoids a falling bridge, and Paul Walker uses the rubble as a ramp (no big deal, right?). This is nothing compared to the end of the clip, which we'll let you see for yourself because explaining it might cause us to pass out from anxiety; it’s C-R-A-Z-Y.
- ‘The Blues Brothers’ (1980)
A car chase has never looked more fun than when Dan Aykroyd is behind the wheel with John Belushi. John Landis’s “The Blues Brothers” held the record for the most cars wrecked in a film for a long time (103 to be exact) and in this scene, we get a handful of those demolished vehicles. Aykroyd calmly drives as the two are pursued by hordes of cops, only to escape by (magically) flying over a cop car, leaving their pursuers to crash into one giant cop dog pile. We don’t care how much “Grand Theft Auto” you play, Aykroyd and Belushi know how to outrun the fuzz with a bang.
- 'Bullitt' (1968)
There’s no better location for a high-speed car chase than the bobbing streets of San Francisco. In this 1968 classic, Steve McQueen’s Frank Bullitt races after a bad guy, swerving and dodging cars as he cooks up a thick trail of smoke behind him. The two cars hop along the hilly streets one after the other, like playing leap frog as the engines roar and the tires screech at every jolting turn. The greatest part of this chase is that it puts the audience right next to McQueen, making your stomach jump as he plummets down every hill like a roller coaster at free fall.
- 'Bad Boys II' (2003)
“Bad Boys II” has some pretty ridiculous moments, but the most insane is the freeway car chase. As if Michael Bay couldn’t destroy enough cars on a freeway, he throws in a fully-loaded car carrier to make matters as messy as possible. As the machine gun-clad bad guys driving the carrier shoot Gabrielle Union up ahead, while Will Smith and Martin Lawrence race behind to catch up. And the worst part of chasing bad guys driving a car carrier? They use empty cars as ammo, shooting them off the ramp one by one. But hold on, dodging rolling cars at full speed isn’t crazy enough for Bay, so he sends a giant sailboat down the freeway. We’re not sure this car chaos will ever be topped.
- ‘The Rock’ (1996)
When Sean Connery and Nicolas Cage get behind the wheel, things are bound to get ridiculous. In this scene from Michael Bay’s “The Rock,” Connery’s Mason steals a car and destroys literally everything on the San Francisco streets while police, and Cage’s Dr. Goodspeed, pursue him. Connery hits a water delivery truck, blows up a few cars and some power lines, nearly kills an old lady, and then derails a cable car that blows up in a giant explosion. Just your typical afternoon drive.
- ‘The Bourne Supremacy’ (2004)
Jason Bourne car chases are great because instead of relying on explosions and gimmicks for extremity, they excel in delivering incessant, relentless tension. In this scene, Matt Damon’s Bourne races a stolen taxi cab (not the most stealthy car) through the crowded streets of Moscow. We already know Bourne is skilled at the art of car-centric escapes (in “The Bourne Identity,” he drives a car down a Paris stairwell), but here he gets caught in some pretty dangerous turns. He charges onto a packed speeding freeway, gets jolted by a semi, then, finally, pinned against a tunnel wall and shot at. But, of course, Jason Bourne always comes up with a winning plan.
- 'The Dark Knight' (2008)
The freeway chase scene from “The Dark Knight” is a great example of a superb bit of intense but simple filmmaking. When the Joker fires round after round -- and a torpedo -- at the SWAT truck carrying Harvey Dent, the only car suitable to save the day is Batman’s Tumbler. Then, after demolishing a dump truck, Batman switches from the Tumbler to the Batpod, which he uses to tie up the Joker’s semi in (maybe) one of the greatest action moments in recent movie history. Leave it to Batman to take it to the extreme with the coolest wheels.
- ‘Drive’ (2011)
A movie called "Drive" is bound to have crazy car chases and Nicolas Winding Refn’s 2011 thriller certainly does. While the opening chase is sneaky and stylistic, this scene gets real intense, real fast. After getting set up, Ryan Gosling’s Driver tries to lose his pursuers on a winding side road, but after some tire bumping, Gosling pulls a new trick out of his scorpion-jacket sleeve. Moving at full speed, Driver flips around and drives backward, only to suddenly spin back around again at the last minute. In a slo-mo, nearly silent shot, we see a terrified Christina Hendricks as the other car swerves and spins in mid-air. It's both beautiful and thrilling.
- ‘The Blues Brothers’ (1980)
“The Blues Brothers” destroys far too many cars to only get one spot on this list. In this sequence, which is just as hilarious as the aforementioned street-chase scene, Aykroyd and Belushi take their chase into one of the most unusual places: the mall. While it might be a great place to lose a pursuer on foot, such public places only cause disaster on wheels. The brothers plow through a Toys R Us (traumatizing for any child), hit a few mannequins, and escape as the cops demolish every inch of the mall, then get stuck spinning upside down. Awesome, ridiculous, and hilarious indeed.
- 'Ronin' (1998)
In “Ronin” a frantic-looking Robert De Niro and a hair-flowing Natascha McElhone race through the streets, tunnels, and bridges of Paris, leaving giant messes behind them. As De Niro pursues McElhone, the two cause numerous accidents, explosions, and serious chaos as they race on the wrong side of the freeway. Jean Reno and Jonathan Pryce also engage in a shooting duel (you know, just to keep things interesting).
- ‘The Italian Job’ (1969)
Not all car chases need suspense and destruction to build intensity. The gold thieves in 1969’s “The Italian Job” zoom through a giant plaza in their trio of red, white, and blue MINI Coopers, drive down the steps of a subway entrance, hop along the tops of buildings, and even manage to grab some lunch while at it. The greatest part of this rather subdued chase is that the thieves remain blasé and relaxed as they drive through each ridiculous location, rarely going over the speed limit. These guys know what they’re doing; road rage just isn't their style.