5 Best Car Chases of 2012

| December 29, 2012


Car Chases have been an American staple since Bullitt. In fact, if you watch movies like Bullitt or The French Connection, you realize that those movies are really only remembered because of their car chase, otherwise they’d drift into obscurity like that one movie. You know the one. Great car chases can make a film unforgettable and because they are so common, if someone can find a fresh way of presenting one, like last year’s Drive, that film can become required viewing for film fans everywhere. This is a collection of 2012’s best attempts at eternal greatness.



The tone and style of the action scenes in Haywire were really the only thing that made the movie worth watching, which doesn’t actually mean that I remember much about Haywire. I did however carry with me all year the car chase in the woods where Gina Carano’s character drives backwards down a dirt road while getting shot at and mostly avoiding trees. It’s not exactly something we haven’t seen before, but it was actually a part of the film that was fun to watch… plus it rounds out the list to an even five.


The Bourne Legacy

The Bourne films have always had exceptional car chases as they’ve always tried to live up to the Mini chase from the first film. Legacy’s motorcycle chase does what car chases never could, which is apply the always-be-hitting-them kind of fighting that we expect from the Bourne films to a car chase. Not only are they trying to shoot each other and trying to to lead each other through dangerous paths and crowded areas to knock each other off their bikes, when Rachel Weisz swings her helmet at the bad guy it’s one of the more satisfying action moments in the movie. Both the desperation and resourcefulness of the act is so much fun, making this chase a little extra brutal and personal.


Jack Reacher

This chase feels very inspired by the understated chases of Drive. Reacher isn’t just trying to get away from the police here because he is also trying to chase down the guys who have framed him. A big part of why I love this one so much is that the chase actually slows down, Reacher gets far enough away from the cops and knows that the bad guys aren’t far ahead so it begins to prowl. Sneaking down alleyways and trying to guess which way they went, eventually getting surprised. Plus, Reacher isn’t exactly an impressive driver (he doesn’t even have a license, technically) and so he fishtails often, misses turns, and even slides into a wall and kills the car for a moment. It’s a regular guy in a desperate and frustrating situation, though Reacher remains cool and calm through it all.


Wreck-It Ralph

Animated movies have it a little easier because they can just make anything crazy that they can dream up happen, but that doesn’t make it less exciting. The entire climax of the film relies on Vanellope’s driving through volcanoes and dodging giant candies while competing against all the mean girls that hate her cause she’s completely adorable (that’s not why they hate her but she totally is).


21 Jump Street

There was never any question that this would win. 21 Jump Street has two good chases, but the most memorable one is the highway chases where, despite their best effort they are unable to blow up cars on command. One of them is wearing a peter pan out fin and neither of them really knows what they’re doing. It balances surprisingly great action for a comedy with lines that are so funny that they hardly give you time to breathe. They steal a car, they wreck motorcycles, they shoot at people, and things blow up. You can’t ask for more.

– James Hart

Did we miss one? Leave a comment before about what your favorite car chase this year was. And don’t forget to listen to our end of the year Filmsplosion!

About the Author:

James grew up in a house where Friday night was Movie night, which meant that he’d watched more movies than anybody else his age before he was even old enough to watch the rated R ones. He’ll watch just about anything, though he tends to avoid the horror movies without a sense of humor. Among his favorite movies are: Alien, Fargo, True Romance, Ed Wood, and Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark. He’s a die-hard LOST fan and a Brown Coat. As a writer, story usually comes first for James. Memorable characters and sharp dialogue are the things that separate the classics from the chaff. That said, he does his best to keep having fun at the movies. He’s seen plenty of critics who would once have accepted summer blockbusters as entertainment become jaded and nit-picky. Sure James loves the art of film and storytelling, but fun comes first, the fun that he had watching Raiders when he was little. Also, E.T. scares the pants off him.
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