Stop dreaming – we are never going to see a death-defying car chase on the streets of Singapore. The closest action you will get on the Lion City’s safe roads is at the Singapore Grand Prix, where F1 racing teams gather every year for the nighttime event.
What you experience in the The Fast and the Furious franchise – a speeding vehicle (with a human being hanging onto its hood, no less!) trying to outrun an out-of-control tanker - is movie magic.
For the record, 16 years have passed since the world was introduced to Fast and Furious action films. Eight movies have sent viewers into an adrenaline rush (2001’s The Fast and the Furious, 2003’s 2 Fast 2 Furious, 2006’s The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift, 2009’s Fast & Furious, 2011’s Fast Five, 2013’s Fast & Furious 6, 2015’s Furious 7 and 2017’s Fast & Furious 8), with the ninth instalment set to be released in 2019.
While these films have taken movie car chases to the next level, there are also other impressive sequences pulled off on the big screen. Let’s take a look at some of them, and imagine we are right smack in the danger zone – even though you are comfortably seated with a cup of coffee.
1. You Had One Job
Before directing Fast & Furious 8, F. Gary Gray helmed 2003’s The Italian Job. The American remake of the 1969 British film features a star-studded cast which includes Mark Wahlberg, Charlize Theron, Jason Statham, Edward Norton, Seth Green, Mos Def and Donald Sutherland. With a simple storyline (a group of thieves come together to steal gold from a former teammate), the highlights of the heist movie are, of course, its action sequences.
Shot on location in Venice and Los Angeles, many canals and streets were reportedly temporarily shut down to facilitate filming – don’t you love it when CGI isn’t the convenient solution to complicated action scenes? Our favourite moment is seeing Mini Coopers race through a massive network of subway tunnels. The vehicles had to be built with electric motors because combustible engines were not allowed in the underground location. Also, hats off to the actors who did their own stunt driving!
2. Bourne To Drive
Matt Damon has done many things. He was a helpless soldier in Saving Private Ryan (1998), a corrupted cop in The Departed (2006) and an intimidating boss in The Zero Theorem (2013). He is also known for playing the amnesiac assassin Jason Bourne. Amidst all the action in the series of action spy thrillers (2002’s The Bourne Identity, 2004’s The Bourne Supremacy, 2007’s The Bourne Ultimatum and 2016’s Jason Bourne), Damon shows viewers what a badass driver he can be in the 2004 movie.
In the finale of the film, we see Bourne escaping the bad guys on a Moscow cab. The sequence forces you to look at how the seemingly defeated Bourne is determined to survive this ordeal. The yellow taxi tries its best to avoid other vehicles on the road, but causes quite a bit of destruction in the process. Director Paul Greengrass (United 93) employs the shaky camerawork to great effect in this scene, and you will be left breathless at the edge of your seat. You know Bourne will survive this, but it is a gripping experience nonetheless.
3. You Can Drive Us Anytime, Driver
Nothing very much happens in Nicolas Winding Refn’s neo-noir crime thriller Drive (2011). Heck, the protagonist doesn’t even have a name. Simply known as the Driver, the puppy-eyed Ryan Gosling plays a mechanic, a stunt double, a stunt driver, and most importantly, a criminal-for-hire getaway car driver. This sets the backdrop for the movie based on the eponymous 2005 novel by James Sallis, which sees the Driver getting involved in a dangerous million-dollar heist.
People adore Gosling because he is cool in whatever he does. In the movie’s opening sequence, he barely breaks a sweat as he shows us his talent behind the wheel. After picking up burglars who have completed their break-in at a warehouse, the Driver escapes the police without uttering a word. This getaway scene is a cinematic gem: the sound design allows engine growls and Cliff Martinez’s eclectic score to complement the cinematography flushed with neon street lamps.
4. Racing with the Norse God
Mere mortals often associate hunky Chris Hemsworth with Thor, the superhero role he is best known for. Did you know that the Australian actor played real life F1 driver James Hunt in 2013’s Rush? In the movie directed by Ron Howard, Hemsworth took on the role of a cocky upstart British driver who is brash and daring. His rival is Niki Lauda (played by the charismatic German actor Daniel Brühl), a no-nonsense Austrian racer who only has racing on his mind.
This makes a good drama as the movie unfolds itself into the epic 1976 battle between Hunt and Lauda for the F1 world championship. A must-see for any F1 fan, this movie features many adrenaline-filled racing sequences and near-fatal crashes that leave you at the edge of your seat. The intense rivalry between the two protagonists only makes the real-life story more intriguing.
5. Don’t Get Max Mad
Max Rockatansky was a law-abiding police officer in a future Australia. Alas, the society wasn’t nice to the dude as it started experiencing war and resource shortages. When Max’s wife and child got murdered by a cruel biker gang, he slaughtered them in revenge. Max then became a loner in the dusty wasteland, and the rest is history.
While most of us are familiar with the chase scene in Mad Max: Fury Road (2015), the awesomeness stems from the earlier movies Mad Max (1979), Mad Max 2: Road Warrior (1981) and Mad Max 3: Beyond Thunderdome (1985). George Miller is the director behind these four movies. With the story’s post-apocalyptic backdrop, the Australian filmmaker makes use chaos to frame his stories. There are countless car chases in the Mad Max movies, and there is always an innovative way to crash a vehicle. Miller also makes use of minimum CGI to create maximum impact. If Mel Gibson (who portrayed Mad Max in the first three movies) and Tom Hardy (who took over the titular role in the fourth instalment) are thrill seekers, it must have been a joy working with Miller on these chase sequences.
Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior
Mad Max 3