By Mania Staff
September 18, 2012 Source: Mania.com
With James Bond and Indiana Jones arriving on Blu-ray this month, Mania counts down the 50 greatest chase sequences of all time. They include cars, trains, planes, stagecoaches, and spaceships, as well as a few scenes of good old-fashioned shoe leather. A chase here is defined as a pursuit of any kind involving at least one chaser and one chase-ee. (This disqualifies a few films, such as Jan de Bont’s Speed which technically has no pursuer.) Here is part 2 of the 50 Best Chase Scenes.
40. On Her Majesty’s Secret Service
“This never happened to the other fellow.”
This scene (more of an extended sequence, really), should be in the dictionary under the phrase “Nice Save.” George Lazenby got handed a flaming dung bag with this role, and in places it's sad to watch him get it all over himself trying to stomp it out. Part of the problem, really, is simply that it was 1969, and Lazenby's Bond is brutally victimized by period fashion, in addition to being more than a little wooden and unconvincing (the whole film's a single "yeah, baby!" away from being epic fail). But just when you're about to sigh and give up, comes this: a nerve-wracking ski escape from Blofeld's Piz Gloria brainwashing factory. It ratchets tension by not simply ending the scene when Bond reaches the local village (a quietly brilliant story move), and extends into one of the better car chases the Bond series has produced. Way to pull it out, guys!
39. Dirty Mary, Crazy Larry
“Ain’t nothing gonna stop us!”
Dirty Mary, Crazy Larry emerged from the heyday of stunts in the mid-1970s, an unremarkable film save for one hell of a finish. Vic Morrow's dogged sheriff pursues the titular fugitives in a police helicopter: flying under power lines and even bumping into Larry's stolen Dodge Charger at one point. You can see that it's really Morrow hanging from the side, which only makes our palms sweat even further. (In a horrid case of irony, Morror himself was killed in a helicopter crash several years later.) The chase ends with one of the most brutal stunts ever put on film; years later, the hit series The Fall Guy used it as a memorable staple in their opening credits.
38. Raising Arizona
“I’ll be taking these Huggies… and whatever cash you got.”
The Coen Brothers never do anything halfway, which may explain this ludicrous centerpiece to their deranged kidnapping comedy. They set it up with the very first scene, establishing the modus operandi of dipshit convenience store robber H.I. McDonough (Nicolas Cage). They then leave it be, until – in a fit of pique – he returns to his criminal ways during a stop for diapers. The resulting chase through the suburban streets ultimately involves McDonough’s wife (Holly Hunter), the local police, a hijacked pick-up driver, a supermarket full of shrieking housewives, two clerks extremely fond of their 2nd Amendment rights, and an impromptu pack of neighborhood dogs. There’s no real point to the mayhem… which only makes the directors’ gleeful piling on all the funnier.
37. Romancing the Stone
“Where am I going? How about Lupe’s Escape?!”
Romancing the Stone really turns into an extended chase scene for the entirety of its final 30 minutes or so, as the big macguffin (a fist-sized emerald named El Corazon) enters play in the plot. The big kicker in the whole sequence, though, comes when Joan Wilder (Kathleen Turner) and Jack Colton (Michael Douglas) drive a crappy old Renault across the Columbian countryside to escape machinegun-toting thugs in jeeps, and an inexplicable appearance by Columbian horse cavalry. It's touches like these that make 80s cinema such a hoot. And the capper, of course, is driving the car off a waterfall, stunt doubles jumping clear into the surf. No CGI here: we're goin' over, folks!
36. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
“They have him: in the belly of that steel beast!”
For what they perceived as the final entry in the Indiana Jones franchise, director Steven Spielberg and producer George Lucas pulled out all the stops. They’d set their hero some long odds before, but never like this: Indy (Harrison Ford), on horseback and armed only with his pistol and whip, against an indomitable World War I tank. He can’t do anything that might endanger his father (Sean Connery) held hostage inside, while the crew that ridiculously outguns him is under no such obligations towards him. Even that isn’t enough, as Spielberg throws a steadily approaching precipice at him to keep the clock ticking. Only the greatest adventurer in movie history could face such a challenge… and even then we weren’t sure if he was gonna pull it off.
35. TRON/TRON Legacy
“Now this I can do…”
The light cycle chase in the original TRON became an icon of 80s cinema, positing living computer programs piloting speeding cycles that left an ever-expanding maze of deadly walls behind them. In one of the stranger cases of life imitating art, the scene became the basis for a hit video game that initially garnered more fans than the film itself. Thirty years later, TRON: Legacy reinvented the sequence by adding multiple levels on the battlefield, as well as lending the cycles a poetic elegance that underscored their deadly purpose. Taken together, the two sequences form the perfect example of cinema for cinema's sake: literal sound and light shows that exhilarate us through sheer originality.
34. Minority Report
“I’m sorry John, but you’re gonna have to run again.”
The ability to see the future has been a part of drama since the Greeks, but it took Steven Spielberg to apply its principles to a chase. With his former department hot on his heels and a barely-there “pre-cog” Agatha (Samantha Morton) clinging to his shoulder, hunted cop John Anderton (Tom Cruise) looks sunk. His only hope is to listen to the whispers of his charge, moving him through a crowded mall with strangely awkward precision. He pauses just often enough for momentary cover to appear, and uses seemingly random acts to buy himself a few precious seconds. Their implied trust in each other carries an intimacy as intense as any roaring engine, until they finally slip away amid a sea of umbrellas in a moment composed of equal parts whimsy and melancholia. Agatha is never wrong… and while her abilities may save him here, they promise to seal the fate he’s fought so hard to avoid.
33. The Terminator
“On your feet, soldier! ON YOUR FEET!”
The Cyberdyne Systems Model 101 is relentless, as Kyle Reese (Michael Biehn) helpfully explains and Arnold Schwarzenegger explicitly manifests. The climactic chase sequence drives the point home, as the Terminator pursues Reese and Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton) from their hotel room to the industrial factory where two of the three finally meet their demise. Along the way, the robot gets shot, mangled, run over, blown up in a fuel truck and – in the piece de resistance – ripped in half with homemade explosives. And it just. Keeps. Coming. The sequence lasts 20 minutes, but it feels like the whole film… with that Teutonic killbot always just two steps behind its prey.
“Beg your pardon. Forgot to knock.”
Another in the series of “we've got a new Bond, so we need him to do a scene that's just friggin' amazing” chase sequences. Timothy Dalton's Gibraltar throw-down needed a superb sequel, and Pierce Brosnan gets handed a beauty here. This scene is actually a follow-on from an already great shootout escape from a decrepit Russian government building featuring Bond and about a hundred AK-toting Russians, and we're already jazzed at this moment in the film. So when Bond plows a tank through a wall and into the St. Petersburg streets to try and rescue the gorgeous Natalya (Izabella Scorupco) from the skeezy General Oroumov (Gottfried John), all we can do is cheer.
31. Blade Runner
“I’m going to give you a few seconds before I come.”
Even before murderous replicant Roy Batty (Rutger Hauer) comes for police hitman Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford), we can’t be sure who’s on the right side. Batty fights for his very survival, Deckard to protect a system he clearly doesn’t believe him. We fear for the human, chased vertically through walls and floors until he finds himself trapped on the roof, but somehow the replicant commands more of our sympathies. After all, he’s lost people he actually cares about… which results in the surprising act of mercy that caps the sequence. Until then, we’re left to wonder how Deckard can possibly fight back, and whether it would be an entirely good thing if he does.
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