This Week: A Car Chase
Who doesn’t love a good movie car chase? From action to comedy, this is a great way to build suspense or get a laugh. From the gritty realism of The French Connection to the wild goofy fun of the Fast & Furious franchise, car chases are some of our favorite movie moments. Here a two chases that had us driving for more.
Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)
Summary: Mad Max: Fury Road takes place in a post apocalyptic world where Max (Tom Hardy) is enslaved by the tyrannical Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne) to be used as a blood bag for his warriors. When Immortan Joe’s trusted warrior, Furiosa (Charlize Theron) rescues his five perfect wives in hopes of leading them to freedom, all hell breaks loose as Immortan Joe is willing to do everything in his power to stop them. When Max manages to escape his captors, he and Furiosa form a shaky alliance in the hopes of outrunning Immortan Joe and his men.
The Moment: Most of this movie could be classified as a car chase. The moment that I’ll focus on though, is the first car chase which leads into the sandstorm. Immortan Joe has just discovered that Furiosa is on the run with his favourite brides. In a raging fury, he calls upon his best warriors to track Furiosa down and reclaim his wives. We see his warriors in full force, the cars, the guns and the best vehicle in the group: a truck loaded with war drums and a flame-throwing heavy metal guitar player. When Furiosa sees Immortan Joe and his men in pursuit, she drives right into the heart of an incredibly deadly sandstorm. During this whole chase, Max is tied to the front of Nux’s car. Nux (Nicholas Hoult) is one of Immortan Joe’s men and he is determined to fulfill his destiny, by getting Furiosa and Immortan Joe’s wives back or die trying. As all these characters converge in the sandstorm we are treated to a true visual feast. The visual effects are mind blowing and we, as an audience, can’t agree more with Nux as he yells, “Oh, what a day! What a lovely day!”
Why it Matters: With so many car chase scenes in this movie, it’s hard to pick one. The final chase sequence is arguably the best, but this initial chase is such a pivotal moment in the storytelling process. It’s at this point in the movie that we know we’re in for one hell of a ride. The pure adrenaline from this scene is something that has been sorely missed in recent action movies. The storyline isn’t over complicated and we have a clear idea of what is going on. This is the first time that we get a real feel for the style of the movie. From the flame throwing guitar to Max spending most of the chase strapped to the front of a car, we see that this movie isn’t about to hold anything back and we’re equally pumped to see what’s next and have it last forever. Aside from that though, this scene shows us so much about the characters in the movie. More than any other car chase scene, and more than most action sequences in general, it is a great introduction to each person and what we learn will guide us through the rest of the movie. We see Furiosa’s infallible determination; her unwavering dedication to her task when she purposefully chooses the most dangerous path in hopes of evading her pursuers. We also see how strong Max’s will to live is. Even after having been strapped to a car, used as a blood bag and having no prospect for escape, he smashes out the back window with his fist and fights Nux with all his might so that he can survive. He is so resolute in his in desire to live, even when we haven’t seen anything to show that he has a reason to live for. We also see Immortan Joe’s unrelenting fury and we know that there’s nothing he’ll stop at before he gets his wives. His fury is really terrifying. At the end of this scene, we have a crystal clear idea of all the characters in the film, who they are, what their goals are and we know that the rest of the film is going to be a non-stop adrenaline rush. And we’re excited.
David’s Take: This is the greatest car chases ever! I’m a fan of the originals, but this movie and this scene in particular simply have greatest car moments ever put to film. The suspense, the practical effects, and George Miller’s incredible direction make for a game-changer that is sure to influence film makers for decades to come. The mayhem is spine-tingling but it’s also incredibly fun. Furiosa is the real star of the film and shows us why in this high-powered moment, stopping at nothing to keep the perfect wives safe. Max is heroically determined and Immortan Joe is frightfully relentless. As Mel says, by the time this moment is over, we know all the characters and their motivation with barely a word said. That’s movie magic.
Director: George Miller
Summary: When James Bond (Pierce Brosnan) discovers that the Janus crime syndicate has stolen the control disk for a pair of secret satellite weapons called GoldenEye, he is off to stop the financial destruction of Britain and face a foe who once once a friend.
The Moment: Bond’s exploits land him in St. Petersburgh where he and Natalya Simonova, a Russian computer programmer and the only survivor of the attack at the Siberian bunker where Janus stole the disks. Captured by the Russian authorities, they are being interrogated by the Defence Minister when Russian Colonel Arkady Ourumov, working with Janus, busts in and starts firing. Simonova is captured but Bond escapes and takes after Ourumov who gets in a car and speeds away with Simonova. So, Bond, being Bond, takes that one step further and steals a Russian T-55 Tank and smashes his way through the city in pursuit, as loads of police in tiny cars try (and fail) to stop him.
Why it Matters: If there is anything that Bond can do, he does it bigger, badder, and with 100% more style than anyone else. It’s not worth doing if you can’t look good doing it, and Bond looks good driving a tank. The sequence is really one of those very dangerous moment, and not because of the damage to property the vehicle can and does cause, but because of how delicately the tank had to have been handled by the writers and filmmakers in setting in the film. On paper it must have look positively ridiculous, especially as the film is actually one of the more grounded in the long Bond franchise. There is the worry in any of these films that they might go too far, and indeed often they do (invisible car anyone?), but here it works wonderfully as we believe this is exactly what could and should happen. What’s really fascinating is how thrilling it is to watch. A tank in the streets is virtually indestructible so how can the film it keep it interesting? By running through the car chase tropes and topping it at every turn, that’s how. By the time Bond crashes into a huge statue of a man riding a winged horse, which ends up resting atop the tank like a massive hood ornament, we are laughing just as we should be, not because it’s silly, even though it is, but because it’s just plain fun. While it was not actually filmed in St. Petersburgh, instead at Warner Bros. Studios, Leavesden in southeastern England, it still feel very authentic and remains of the best all-time car chases ever.
Mel’s Take: Bond does look good driving a tank. This scene is a great depiction of Bond’s flair for the dramatic and the way in which he can do pretty much anything and pull it off. David’s right, this scene did need to be handled delicately. It could have easily read as a satire of car chases but instead, it read as a completely plausible scenario, given the circumstances. This scene is so much fun and it completely cements our feelings about Bond as the hero.
Director: Martin Campbell
Melissa is a contributing writer to TMI. Visit her Homepage for Movie Reviews and More.