Top 5 Car Chases = Top 5 Car Ads

July 4, 2010

OK, before we start, there will be no O.J. Simpson references or jokes, no white Broncos, and no speeding down a highway with some jerk in his Ferrari to prove how rich and/or blasted he is on the devil's dandruff. This piece is about car chases in movies and how they are nothing but pure car ads, rolling product placements that really have worked well on me in the past. I am a sucker and I admit it--the car chase IS the best car ad in the world.

I have always been a big admirer of a great car chase scene and also what it takes to get these things pulled off. Really, these drivers need skill and cojones beyond what any normal, rational person could ever muster. Now, at my day job I suffer under massive work stress and I wish I could let it out somehow in the off-hours. And wouldn’t being able to drive like these nutbags in one of these hot cars be worth it?

We have all seen car chases, we have all seen some good ones, some bad ones and some that make you think that the movie director and stunt men were indeed sucking back Colombian marching powder before and during the shoot.

My list of top 5 car chases that are merely car ads in disguise are from some exceptionally well known movies, and one that I hadn’t considered until I was trolling the web and randomly came across a film clip from my teenage years that truly made me want a Porsche 928 at the time. Hint: Who’s the U-Boat commander?

[Note: I know what you’re saying--I did not include Bullitt, the French Connection, or even Vanishing Point, all of which are top notch. I will come back to those at a later post.]

  1. BMW Films: The Hostage. OK, keep your pants on. Yes, we all know the BMW films that made a huge splash a decade ago were choreographed to the nth degree, but there is no doubt they were all superbly done, and I liked this one. Well, I liked them all, and Clive Owen wasn’t yet a snooty movie jerk. The driving is superb, the filming is even better and if you didn’t want a BMW after this, you were either dead, an old curmudgeon like my father who LOVEs a cushy ride and thinks everyone should drive an SUV, or you already own a 911 and wouldn’t dare be seen in Bavarian machinery. 
  2. Aston Martin DB9: The last James Bond film provided us with one of the best car chases of the last 20 years, which was a short Aston Martin ad. Aston Martins are usually driven by guys who make too money or in this case, by men who have to kill enemies of the state while wearing fancy suits and sleeping with a lot of women. Cry me a river. This car chase scene (allegedly) in Italy is fantastic. The cars get the crap beaten out of them, they race, they crash and they make you want an Aston Martin so bad, you’d kill your co-worker in the next cubicle with your bare hands if you knew it would land you a job as a 007 and all the automotive perks that come with it. And I might ad that the Alfa Romeos in this chase scene hold up well and do a good job at advertising themselves, as does the rugged Land Rover that crashes through a building--and keeps on going. Rule Britannia indeed!
  3. Ronin and BMW: What can I say about this movie and the multiple car chases that hasn’t already been said? I am not sure, but they are paying me to say something, and to be honest this car chase makes the BMW 5-Series look even greater (they use what appears to be a BMW M5, but isn’t), which is hard. Apart from the last gen 5-Series, these cars have been in my opinion the ultimate executive express, and I wanted one even more after watching this car chase. And I’d never thought I’d say this, but the Peugeot holds up pretty well for a French piece de merde. Phenomenal stunts and filming and I love seeing cars get the crud beaten out of them.
  4. Jason Bourne Drives a Mean Lada: The Bourne films were superb, all of them, and the car chases were some of the finest I have ever witnessed. Just pure action, great stunts, and they involved some nice cars, like an Mercedes-Benz Gelaendewagen among others. My favorite of all of them was the car chase in the Bourne Supremacy,which oddly advertised the Russian rolling refuse rust rocket--the Lada--as one tough driver’s car. Sure, it's a stunt car, they probably had 700 of them as backups on the set for every time one Lada wouldn’t start because the starter was shoddily assembled by a vodka-soaked line worker named Vladimir who left off several screws in the process of dealing with a hangover. But the chase in the Lada came off as a great ad for that vehicle.
  5. When Tom had talent: Here is the one from my youth that put a huge grin on my face. It’s the chase scene in Tom Cruise’s Risky Business, probably the last good film he ever made. And the chase of the Porsche 928, with admittedly a paltry 247 horsepower at that time, and the giant Guido the Killer Pimp two-door Caddy was so nice to see. Not a spectacular chase, but a fun one with the Miles in the back seat saying “I’m going to throw up on you, Joel.” And then Cruise saying the Porsche tag line and Miles telling him to fornicate with himself as a curt reply. Sheer genius. And then I wanted a Porsche 928 more than life itself. Great rolling car ad. 
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