A Decade of Car Content

The 2010’s may go down as the era of superhero movies and nostalgic reboots, but it also saw its fair share of automotive content. The following 10 scenes in film were judged based on editing, stunt work, and whether or not it made a car enthusiast’s hair stand on edge when they first saw it on screen. Editing was the biggest factor so you won’t find any of the Fast n Furious or Transformers movie mentions on this list. Obviously, there are way more than just 10 scenes, and I’m sure you will not agree with every single item on this list. This is just a list of 10 scenes in film that caused the idling emotion inside every petrol-head’s heart to rev up.

Faster (2010) – Chevelle SS Introduction

Faster is a crime-drama with a very simple plot. Driver (Dwayne Johnson) is a wheelman fresh out of prison after a 10 year stay after being double crossed in a bank heist gone wrong that left his brother murdered before his eyes. Now, armed with a .454 revolver, a list of names, and a matte black 1970 Chevelle SS, he sets off on a one-man hunting party to seek revenge on those responsible. The first 10 minutes are why this film made it on the list.

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You see Driver pacing in his cell impatiently waiting to be released. He immediately takes off running from the prison into town to a salvage yard. Making his way through the stacks of derelicts to a car shaped tarp. A pull back unveils the black Chevelle SS (which was actually a 1971 wearing a ’70 face). Leather jacket on, keys in the ignition, foot on the gas – the Chevelle rips up the payment launching itself out of the yard on a full charge to the first address on Driver’s list.

Jack Reacher (2012) – Tom Cruise as a Stunt Driver

Jack Reacher was the film adaptation of Lee Child’s 2005 novel One Shot. The movie stars Tom Cruise as a former military defective. The plot revolves around the mysterious investigation a former military sniper allegedly shooting 5 people at random. The car-chase scene in Jack Reacher features another 1970 Chevelle SS (this time in red). It made the list because of how beautifully the car chase was filmed. Audiences were treated to tracking shots following the Chevelle as it chased down bad guys through downtown Pittsburgh with cops not far behind.

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No shaky-cam, no rapid editing, no CGI, and no background music. Tom Cruise did all his own driving for the film and the car even improvised a scene when it decided to stall for a few seconds before roaring back to life and leaving a set of eleven’s thanks to an Murican big block 454 V8. Although the Chevelle collects several thousand dollars worth of bodywork during the chase the car ultimately survives the chase. I for one really like it when the hero car survives the chase.

Baby Driver (2017) – Go baby, Go!

While the movie didn’t truly live up to expectations, the introduction car chase scene featuring a red Subaru WRX had me wishing Edgar Wright would reboot Gone in 60 Seconds. The movie stars Baby, a young getaway driver with tinnitus who uses music to drown out the constant ringing in his ear drum. Another movie that focused on particular effects over CGI and even sent actor Ansel Elgort to stunt driving school to pull off certain scenes in the movie.

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The only nit-pick I had was that Baby basically vinyl wrapped the WRX with his finger prints, which is very sloppy for a professional getaway driver. Baby Driver was a breath of fresh air midst the mindless shark jumping in Fast n Furious by delivering real action in sync with great music.

Drive (2011) – Chevy Malibu Getaway

The first time I saw this movie I did not like it. Like many, I was expecting more… driving. It took several more viewings to fully appreciate the neo-noir of Drive. The film follows the story of quiet, toothpick chewing, man who works by day as a stunt-driver and getaway driver by night. The story takes a dark detour when a robbery goes wrong and Driver ends up with a duffel bag full of mob money.

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The first introduction scene to Drive is a getaway scene featuring a plain Jane silver Chevy Malibu with a 350 horsepower tune up. The scene captures the tension of playing cat and mouse with the LAPD while trying to make their escape. The entire scene in filmed from inside the car putting the audience in the passenger seat riding shotgun with Ryan Gosling as he makes his calculated run. The scene after the getaway where Ryan’s character Driver is cruising through the night in his 1973 primer grey Chevy Chevelle is also the most accurate depiction of going to for a drive I’ve ever seen on film.

Mad Max Fury Road (2015) – Pretty Much the Entire Movie

George Miller is a master of the auto-apocalypse. There is not much I need to write to justify why I picked Fury Road. It speaks for itself with loud engines, nitro trucks, and X-games level stunts. (Mad) Max gets captured by war boys that answer to the tyrannical Immortal Joe. Thanks to his “high octane” blood he is used as living blood bag. After Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron) takes off in a Nitro truck dubbed the War- Rig on a routine ammo and gas pickup it is discovered that she has left with Joe’s many young brides and is escaping to freedom. The act puts Max as a living hood ornament on a collision course with Furiosa as a war party is sent to capture her.

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The only thing I hate, and will always hate, about the 4th entry to the Mad Max series is that they killed off Mad Max’s Interceptor TWICE without giving the car a heroic send off. I mean come on… it was the last of the V8’s!

Getaway (2013) – 90 Seconds of Speed

Getaway stars Ethan Hawke, Selena Gomez, and a bulletproof 2013 Shelby GT500. Hawke is a has-been NASCAR driver whose wife has been kidnapped by an unknown voice that orders him to drive a Shelby GT500. A car that belongs to Selena Gomez who tries to steal it back only to be taken for a ride as Hawke plays Simon Says with the mysterious voice giving orders. Generic plot aside the Shelby looks good outrunning cops in Europe. There is one scene that earned its spot on this list. A scene where the Shelby chases down a Mercedes Benz SUV at real speed with the camera placed on the front bumper in one 90 second, uncut, shot.

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The angle lets us feel the sense of speed with only the supercharger’s whine for background music. It looks like the director was paying homage to the legendary 1976 outlaw street racing film Cetait un Rendez-vous. A short film that starred a Mercedes 450SEL 6.9 liter V8 being driven by director Claude Lelouch as he cannonballs though the city of Paris one early august morning.

John Wick 2 (2017) – Dude, I Found My Car

John Wick 2 is the sequel to the story of a former top assassin who only wanted to grief in peace. They killed the puppy giving to him by his dead wife, and stole his prized 1969 Mustang Mach 1. The film starts with Wick getting reunited with his 1969 Mach 1. John Wick then uses his Mustang to brutally assault members of the Russian mob as they try to halt his escape using a motorcycle and fleet of Crown Victoria taxis.

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Both John and the Mustang take a beaten but keep on kicking. Keanu Reeves did some of his own stunt driving. In an article by Road & Track it is said he is probably one of the best actor stunt-drivers working in Hollywood today.

Hit & Run (2012) – Hot Rod Lincoln

Written, directed, and starring Dax Shepard, Hit & Run was nowhere near a box office smash. However, the project did allow Dax to work with his wife Kristen Bell and show-off his killer 750 horsepower 1967 Lincoln Continental. The plot takes Dax’s character Charlie who is living in witness protection, but when the new love of his life Annie (Kristen) needs to travel to make a life changing job interview Charlie decides to check out of witness protection and drive her in a black Lincoln. Hot on their trail is Charlie’s former gang seeking revenge and a bumbling U.S. marshal trying to keep him alive.

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This movie made the list for a scene featuring the full-size Lincoln melting 20 inch rubber into the pavement set to the tune of Imagination by Lou Rawls. The entire scene will have you thinking “relationship goals”.

Need for Speed (2014) – Muscle Cars CAN Turn

Need for Speed used real cars at real speed to capture the thrill of playing the games. Starring Aaron Paul (Breaking Bad) as a street racer wrongfully accused of caused a tragic car accident. After years in prison he is out for revenge using a custom Shelby Mustang and a Koenigsegg Agera R. The first street race at the start of the film shut-downs the argument of “muscle cars can’t turn” by having a 1968 Camaro SS, 1966 GTO and 1969 Ford Torino drifting their way through alley ways of a street course.

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This scene makes the list for its use of interior camera angles to put you in the driver seat. The speed is real, the driving is precise, and the cars look mean. Movies developed from video games are rarely any good, but Need for Speed got a lot of things right when it came to capturing the reason why these games are so popular.

Ford v. Ferrari (2019) – Miles vs. Gurney at Willow Springs

There are enough articles as to why Ford v. Ferrari was a few gears short of great movie. I even wrote one. Nevertheless, Ford v. Ferrari deserves to be on this list for bringing a great story to the mainstream – even if the studios took certain liberties with how the real life characters were portrayed. CGI was used, but the majority of the racing action in the film was real using real vintage Corvettes and Shelby Cobras.

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The story of how Ford beat Ferrari, inventing one of the greatest race cars of all time in the process, is a story worthy of its own Netflix series. The scene I picked for this list is the race scene between Ken Miles (Christian Bale) and Dan Gurney at Willows Springs.

Honorable Mentions:

Get the Gringo (2012) - Crashing through the Border Wall

The opening scene to Get the Gringo starts with a bingo parlor Mercury Grand Marquis trying to outrun police. The sedan is being driven by a clown mask wearing Mel Gibson, and another clown dying of a gut-shot wound is bleeding on stolen money in the backseat. With one rear tire shot out, and police closing in, what does one do to try and escape this situation? Give the beans and aim for the border wall. The Grand Marquis barrel rolls through the wall in cinematic old school fashion. This scene is cool. That’s one way to clear customs.

Warning: Strong Language

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Wheelman (2017) – Entire Movie inside the Getaway Car

Frank Grillo stars at the Wheelman. After three years in prison the Wheelman owes some bad people a lot of protection money and his skills as a weekend track-day warrior comes in handy when he is asked to be a getaway driver for a heist. The car is black BMW with a red spoiler that you almost never see because the camera rarely leaves the interior of the car. When a random number tells him to leave the crew behind during the heist the Wheelman is forced into mystery of finding out who is setting him up, who is threatening his family, and most importantly – what to do with the stolen money and AK-47 riding in the back seat.

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Is it a great movie? Not particularly, but the way it was filmed and the tense irony of being trapped in a machine built to provide freedom makes for a recommended watch on Netflix if you enjoy cars and crime thrillers.

Run all Night (2015) - Mullet Camaro Car Chase

Liam Neeson fighting bad guys to protect his family is nothing new, but we still watch it. Run All Night is about burnout hit-man Jimmy Conlon as he tries to survive the night after killing a mob-boss' son who was going to shoot his own son. The mod boss is also Jimmy’s life-long friend. Crooked cops, assassins, veteran detectives, and mobsters are now after Jimmy and his grown son making them the most wanted men in New York.

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You wouldn’t expect a run of the mill action thriller to have a decent car chase, but Run All Night does. The scene stars a 1985 Camaro Z/28 as it goes wheel to wheel with a much heavier NYPD Dodge Charger on the streets of New York. The cameras are placed up close and personal allowing you to feel the adrenaline fueled carnage of metal on metal bashing.

Did I Miss Any?

What scenes do you think should be added? Removed? Should I make another list with more scenes? Let me know!

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