Greatest Chase Scenes
in Film History

1998 - 2002

Greatest Film Chase Scenes
Title Screen
Film Title/Year and Description of Chase Scene

Ronin (1998)

This heist thriller from John Frankenheimer contained two of the best white-knuckle, hair-raising, most realistic car chase sequences ever filmed.

In the film's plot, a group of displaced spies and political agents were brought together in a Montmartre bistro, and then led to a Parisian warehouse where Irish IRA terrorist organizer Deirdre (Natascha McElhone) (and femme fatale) offered to hire them as an international team of specialists (all ex government officials or covert military-mercenary operatives) with one purpose in mind - to ambush a heavily-armed convoy and retrieve a mysterious silver metal briefcase desired by both the Irish and the Russians - contents unknown (the film's obvious Hitchcockian 'McGuffin') - that was handcuffed to its courier.

The operatives and organizers were the film's main characters:

Deirdre (Natascha McElhone)

Sam (Robert De Niro)

Vincent (Jean Reno)

Spence (Sean Bean)

Gregor (Stellan Skarsgard)

Seamus O'Rourke (Jonathan Pryce)
  • Sam (Robert De Niro), an ex- CIA elite covert operations strategist with loyalties to no one
  • Vincent (Jean Reno), Sam's buddy, a Frenchman, an ex- Euro intelligence agent
  • Gregor (Stellan Skarsgard), a German computer-electronics expert, shady, cold and methodical; also opportunistic and not to be trusted
  • Spence (Sean Bean), a Britisher weapons specialist (quickly dropped after being exposed as a naive fraud)
  • Larry (Skip Sudduth), an American, hired as a designated driver

They soon learned from Deirdre's rogue operative-handler Seamus O'Rourke (Jonathan Pryce) who was giving orders, that they were competing with members of the Russian mafia for the steel case.

The first chase sequence began with an ambush and fierce gun-battle in Nice, France, orchestrated by Sam and Vincent, in order to intercept the steel briefcase in a car within a convoy. The chase after the convoy mainly involved a 1996 Audi S8 (driven by Larry) and a 1995 Citroen XM (the target car), while a Mercedes Benz 450SEL (Sam and Vincent) was a backup car following them. Out of town, cars careened on a twisting and winding Cote d'Azur coast-side road along the French Riviera. One of the convoy's escort cars was blown up with a rocket-launcher. When two of the cars were diverted off the main road due to construction, the chase continued on a dirt road, and then returned to the narrow streets of the town of Nice, and plowed through an open market. The chase ended when the cars crashed and plowed through a harbor/waterfront restaurant where diners were eating streetside, and a major gunbattle ensued, as Gregor stole the case.

After the successful ambush of the convoy near Nice, France, the double-crossing Gregor betrayed the team by absconding with the case (and swapping it with a silver spray-painted, replicated duplicate containing a bomb). He then attempted to negotiate with Russian thugs led by Mikhi (Féodor Atkine) to purchase and acquire the case. During a tense standoff between the team and Gregor with the Russians, Sam was seriously wounded in the abdomen by a ricocheted bullet, and Gregor was captured by Seamus with Deirdre.

Later in the film, there was another thrilling 9 minute high-speed car chase (the second major high-speed chase of the film) between a blue 1996 Peugeot 406 driven by Sam (with Vincent) who were chasing a black 1991 BMW M5, driven by Deirdre (with Seamus in the back seat and Gregor in the front seat) in a high-speed pursuit through Parisian streets and a metro tunnel under the Seine River and continuing into wrong-way, heavy freeway traffic, causing crashes and pileups. They were also pursued by French police in Citroen ZXs. The car chase ended when the tires on Deirdre's car were shot at, causing it to upend, roll and crash, careen off the end of an uncompleted highway, and burst into flames. Gregor escaped with the case, while Seamus and Deirdre were rescued from the flaming car.

2nd High-Speed Car Chase
9-Minute Climactic Car Chase Through Paris

The film concluded with the steel case exchanging hands multiple times, and the deaths of many individuals including the double-crossing Gregor, Russian thug Mikhi (Féodor Atkine), Mikhi's Russian girlfriend Natacha Kirilova (Katarina Witt), and Seamus O'Rourke. The contents of the case were never revealed.

In the final scene, Sam and Vincent were in the same Montmartre bistro from the film's opening, where Sam's mind was on whether Deirdre would walk through the door to him or not, rather than listening to a BBC radio report that the death of Irish rogue terrorist operative Seamus meant stability and peace between the Sinn Féin and the British. Vincent cautioned his friend: "She will not be coming back here." When Vincent asked about the contents of the case, Sam replied: "I don't remember."

In voice-over, Vincent had learned a lesson: ("No questions. No answers. That's the business we're in. You accept it and move on. Maybe that's lesson number three").

(l to r): Sam and Vincent Pursuing a Convoy Escort Car Along the French Riviera Outside of Nice

Escort Car Blown Up with Rocket-Launcher

Pursuit Diverted onto Dirt Road

Back into the Narrow Streets of Nice

Courier in Back of Target Car Handcuffed to the Steel-Metal Briefcase

End of Nice Chase - Crash In Front of Harbor-Side Restaurant

Gregor Stealing the Metal Case After the Nice Chase

Russian Mikhi (Féodor Atkine) Negotiating to Purchase Case from Gregor

Gregor Double-Crossed and Shot In Forehead by Mikhi's Sniper

Final Scene: Vincent and Sam in a Bistro

The World is Not Enough (1999)

In the pre-title credits sequence, agent James Bond (Pierce Brosnan) pursued shapely but lethal assassin Cigar Girl (Maria Grazia Cucinotta) after she was responsible for the explosive death of wealthy industrialist and oil tycoon Sir Robert King (David Calder) in MI6 headquarters in London, England.

He noticed her yacht-speedboat on the nearby Thames River, where she was observing the damage and aiming to kill him with her scoped rifle. He pursued in "Q's" (Desmond Llewelyn) unfinished, rocket-propelled jet boat, and had to evade the larger boat when the pretty sniper fired machine-gun rounds and a bazooka at him.

After a lengthy and destructive chase sequence (during which Bond submerged his boat for a dive under a lowered bridge, and also emerged on land and crashed through a wharf-side restaurant as a short-cut), the two ended up at the Millennium Dome, where the Cigar Girl attempted to escape in a hot-air balloon after her boat was torpedoed.

Bond sailed through the air and grabbed onto the balloon's safety line as it ascended, while MI6 surrounded them by helicopter, and Bond offered to protect her if she cooperated:

"Listen to me. You can't get away. We can make a deal. Just tell me who's behind this? Who are you working for? Don't do it! Don't blow us up. I can protect you! Do you understand? I can protect you!"

But she refused ("Not from him!").

She decided to suicidally kill herself by blowing up one of the helium gas tanks on the balloon, as Bond lept from the safety line, fell onto the roof of the Dome, and survived although he suffered a dislocated collarbone.

Charlie's Angels (2000)

In this chase, ditzy blonde Angel Natalie Cook (Cameron Diaz), in a white Formula One-styled racecar, chased the Creepy Thin Man (Crispin Glover) in his black race car around the banked California Speedway (with high-speed 180 degree spins and some racing that went the wrong way). Angel Alex (Lucy Liu) reassured Natalie:

"Nat, it's a round track — he's not going anywhere."

But then they left the track in the stadium and proceeded out onto the streets of Los Angeles (where people and cars scattered - including an airborne surfboard) - leading to a spectacular wreck of a red car and a game of chicken between the race cars on a suspension bridge.

Driven (2001)

Renny Harlan's mindless action drama was about international CART auto racing, with a script by star Sylvester Stallone, who served as a former racing star and driving mentor for rookie Jimmy Bly (Kip Pardue) before the competition.

There was a memorable night-time race through city streets -- including the famous shot of the racers driving past a hotel and blowing a sexy blonde passerby's dress up - a semi-referential nod to The Seven Year Itch (1955).

The Fast and the Furious (2001)

A young, blonde and blue-eyed LA undercover FBI agent, rookie Brian (Paul Walker) investigated a series of diesel hijackings (and a gang's fencing of stolen high-end electronic goods) within a street gang, led by Dominic ("Dom") Toretto (Vin Diesel) driving a '69 Charger. Street racers used souped up, nitrous oxide-injected vehicles, including Honda Civics, Toyota Supras, and a Mazda RX-7.

The film, directed by Rob Cohen, opened with a violent, high-speed, western-style robbery on an interstate highway of a semi-truck by smaller, black supercharged vehicles. And the high-adrenaline finale featured three classic car chases.

[The original film, The Fast and the Furious (1955), was made in the mid-50s, but it was similar in title only. A sequel made in 2003 by director John Singleton, 2 Fast 2 Furious, had Walker as the only returning cast member from the original, in a new setting - Southern Florida, with more high-speed street-racing sequences.]

The Bourne Identity (2002)

In this exciting action-thriller set in Paris, amnesiac CIA assassin Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) maneuvered away from the CIA and Parisian gendarmes in a red, battered-old vintage Austin Mini Cooper as they closed in on him.

Before the chase began, he cautioned his vagabond girlfriend Marie Kreutz (Franka Potente) passenger next to him, the car's owner, that she should leave: "Last chance, Marie," but she remained with him. He negotiated the tiny vehicle through heavy traffic in Paris, through narrow alleyways, down stone steps (before which he warned: "So, we got a bump comin' up"), along sidewalk pavements, and up one-way thoroughfares, causing multiple pile-ups around their car.

The extended chase sequence ended when one of the last pursuing police motorcyclists crashed into a Peugeot 405, and they pulled into an underground parking garage.

Die Another Day (2002)

This Bond film had a spectacularly-inventive and slick car chase/battle scene, in which two cars (Bond's Aston Martin V12 Vanquish and a Jaguar XKR convertible) dueled on the ice face of a frozen lake (at Vatnajokull glacier, in southeast Iceland).

The Jaguar was equipped with a Gatling gun centered behind the driver and passenger seats, missiles emerging from the front grille, concealed door-mounted rocket launchers and a trunk full of mortar bombs. It was pitted against the Vanquish, that was manufactured with 9mm machine guns that emerged fom the hood vents, five heat-seeking missiles, two shotguns that operated from the front radiator grille, and an ejector seat.

There was also a great hovercraft chase sequence in the film.

Greatest Classic Chase Scenes in Film History

(chronological, by film title)
Intro | 1903-1966 | 1967-1971 | 1972-1974 | 1975-1978 | 1979-1983
1984-1989 | 1990-1997 | 1998-2002 | 2003-2006 | 2007-now

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