Regardless, we thought this might be a good time to take a step back and look at some of the best car movies over the years, and to do so in an all-encompassing, inclusive way. Utterly ridiculous, at times laughably so. Because this car does all sorts of things a car could never actually do, you never quite know what to expect. Directed by Elliot Silverstein, this cult horror flick was a late-show mainstay: Director Nicolas Winding Refn knows how to shoot violence, but more important, he knows how to anticipate violence.
The film may not have the authentic details of those classic car movies that would start to come out a decade or so later, but Mitchum is, and will always be, the coolest cat onscreen. Most importantly, the central heist and its ludicrous aftermath are delightfully well-executed. The Transporter Jason Statham, who has now joined the Fast and Furious franchise, scored his first franchise playing an expert driver who gets paid to transport cargo — any kind of cargo, no questions asked.
But over the years, he and the film have grown on us, gaining a wonderfully surreal, retroactive sheen. This is a fun, freewheeling, and oh-so-French action flick — the kind of movie that can slow down to ruminate on madeleines and Proust before proceeding with the mayhem.
That, of course, is the EuropaCorp house style. The Luc Besson—led production company has also given us the Taken films, Lucy, and any number of other nutty, corny, go-for-broke action spectacles. Mercedes, Mon Amour Part The Bicycle Thieves, part The Old Man and the Sea, this little-known Turkish gem is a hilarious, poignant tale of a poor villager who goes to work in Germany and saves up to buy himself a beloved yellow Mercedes.
A very human tale that manages also to be a keen social satire. Speeding away from the cops in, first, a souped-up 68 Chevy Impala, and then a garish Dodge Challenger, the trio bicker and banter relentlessly.
Meanwhile, the pissy, frustrated lawman Kenneth Tobey trying to coordinate the manhunt has to deal with abject incompetence and mind-boggling bureaucracy, as well as his own desire to relive his youth.
Gone in 60 Seconds First, a word about the original: The remake is pretty much the exact opposite: Nicolas Cage is the master thief who has to steal 50 cars in 96 minutes. His teammates include Robert Duvall and Angelina Jolie. The car set pieces are ludicrous, and ludicrously enjoyable. The Ballad of Ricky Bobby At his best, Will Ferrell can effortlessly shred the delusional, almost psychotic machismo of the American male — and he can do it with a smile. Reilly, and his rivalry with an effete, snotty Frenchman played by Sacha Baron Cohen.
The movie moves between cock-of-the-walk triumph and utter humiliation with such quicksilver ease that you might get carsick. Autostop In , the Russian director Nikita Mikhalkov who would later win an Oscar for Burnt by the Sun was enlisted to make a short promotional film for Fiat, but wound up creating this magical short feature instead.
In this evocative, melancholy tale, an Italian champion racer is tasked with driving a car from Italy into Russia. Along the way, as the clean roads of Europe give way to the snowy, forbidding desolation of Russia, the film becomes a haunting meditation on belonging: This lonely man with no family and seemingly no life goes from having meaningless, fly-by-night interactions to unwittingly putting together a weird, dysfunctional surrogate family for himself. And like the best car movies, what seemed like a mundane tale of man and machine becomes a metaphor for how we live our lives.
The Last American Hero Jeff Bridges found one of his great early roles with this drama about Junior Jackson, a brilliant young moonshine runner who turns to the stock-car-racing circuit after his dad winds up behind bars.
The car scenes are rough, authentic, and often deeply compelling — mainly because the fresh-faced Bridges is so damned charismatic. Locke Tom Hardy sits in a car, juggling a variety of duties: And Hardy, giving one of his greatest performances, is the very picture of cool, calm competence. As his confidence begins to fray, and as his smoothly speeding vehicle starts to seem like more and more of a prison, the film becomes almost heart-stoppingly suspenseful.
Taxi The Iranian director Jafar Panahi has been banned from filmmaking by his government, though it has somehow not stopped him from making some really personal, shape-shifting, documentary-style investigations of his own life. This film is set entirely inside a taxi cab that Panahi is driving around Tehran, as different people drift in and out of his car with their own strange and very personal dramas. The Man and His Dream Director Francis Ford Coppola and producer George Lucas teamed up for this glitzy, beautiful, and surprisingly personal biopic about postwar inventor Preston Tucker Jeff Bridges , who took on the big car companies as an independent automaker and effectively got crushed.
Many of his inventions and innovations, such as seat belts, are commonplace today, and the film only somewhat ironically treats his story as one of triumph. Fleeing from their oppressive lives, our heroes, played by Geena Davis and Susan Sarandon, take the standard trajectory of liberation embodied by the macho road movie and give it a feminist kick.
In doing so, they also assume and transform some of the typical elements of such movies — the gun, the one-night stand, and, yes, the car. Nerdy, shy teen Keith Gordon becomes obsessed with his new Plymouth Fury and starts to become more aggressive, ruthless … different. Is it the car? And little by little, his isolation in this case, represented by his car starts to dissolve, and he finds himself more vulnerable than ever before.
The gun belonged to the man. Two men on their way to Mexico for a fishing trip pick up a hitchhiker, who turns out to be a psychotic killer. The man holds them hostage and makes them drive him to California. Meanwhile, a blind small-town radio DJ narrates, encourages, and mythologizes the journey. The director has always dealt in broad strokes, and here he pits these two men against one another as elemental opposites: The two leads are excellent, and they keep the somewhat predictable tale of obsessive competition grounded.
As their rivalry develops — and with it, of course, their friendship — the film also gives us big, bold, crazy sequences that capture the danger and allure of racing. We wince in terror and keep asking for more. That crucial connection between cars and music has certainly been explored by other filmmakers over the years, but Wright takes things further: Written by Frederic Raphael who had written Darling and would later write Eyes Wide Shut , the film is a mesmerizing portrait of how love decays.
And in its constant movement, with its almost frantic tempo, it suggests that time, much like that Mercedes, is kind of a prison when it comes to love. Tarantino gives us a stunt driver Kurt Russell who gets off on killing carloads of unsuspecting females. In the first half of the film, we see him stalk and consume his prey; in the second half, we watch a group of victims as they fight back. As Kiarostami treats us to extended scenes of his protagonist driving around, the landscape gliding past his windows, something mesmerizing and even kind of exciting emerges.
In its own way, this is as great a car movie as something more iconic, like Vanishing Point or Two-Lane Blacktop. Director John Dahl brings out the unsettling undertones even as he orchestrates some fantastically terrifying set pieces. But in their own crazy way, they had adhered to some semblance of plausibility. With their focus on the street-racing subculture, and on the specific capabilities of the cars themselves, they were amped-up carsploitation movies. With the fifth entry in the franchise, however, the series went Bond — becoming an international fantasia of increasingly fantastical set pieces, each one more ludicrous than the last.
There was no reason for it to work, but director Justin Lin who shepherded four of these movies, in the process turning this franchise from a box-office also-ran to an international phenomenon captured just the right lighthearted, cartoonish tone to make it all sing. The new one, Furious Seven, came close to topping it — and who knows, maybe it will with the passing of time — but for now, Fast Five remains the pinnacle of this series.
What starts off as a tight little thriller becomes a fascinating study in masculinity. Weaver is the Eternal Pushover, the guy who is always getting stepped on and pushed aside. The back and forth between these two figures — between, essentially, man and fate — has a delicious, delirious existential kick. Plus, this movie, written by Richard Matheson, is just plain exciting as hell. A meditation on the constantly shifting nature of the modern world?
A vision of a soul adrift? He has that unique ability to create barbed satire while also conjuring up ridiculously memorable characters, never letting his righteous anger get in the way of his humanism.
The result is a movie that defined the punk ethos for an entire generation of viewers. Co-written by Rudy Wurlitzer, the film is not exactly a metaphor, not exactly a drama. Instead, in the occasionally perplexing interactions between these characters, it creates a strange little ecosystem of competition, codependence, resentment, and alienation.
But most unforgettable are the fantastic driving sequences and the almost casually riveting performances — with James Taylor making for a perfectly intense and surprisingly charismatic lead, an ideal foil for the garrulous, slightly helpless Oates. The dystopia is even darker, the filmmaking more stylized, and the stunts nuttier. Even the lead is grimmer than before, with Tom Hardy easily out-brooding his predecessor Mel Gibson.
And, of course, this picture is the one that gives us such indelible characters as the Imperator Furiosa and Immortan Joe. Taxi Driver No complaining. It totally is a car movie. But this study of loneliness, madness, and violence is all about the way cabbie Travis Bickle Robert De Niro drifts through the city — the dank, smoky streets forming a vision of Hell as they glide past his windshield.