275. TMTF’s Top Ten Chase Scenes in Film

Do you know what’s exciting in movies? Chase scenes. I love chase scenes. Chase scenes are wonderful.

Whether the heroes are fleeing in fear from something dangerous or bravely pursuing an important objective, the high-speed, action-packed, adrenaline-pumping excitement of chase scenes is glorious. I’m no film expert, but I like movies as much as anyone, and today we’re looking at some of my favorite chase scenes in film.

The usual one-per-series rule applies here, of course, and I’ve included YouTube links to chase scenes wherever possible. Observant readers will notice a lack of scenes from the James BondDie Hard and Bourne movies. This isn’t due to any personal prejudice against action thrillers. It’s because I’ve seen hardly any of those movies I wanted this list to have some variety!

On your marks, ladies and gentlemen, as TMTF presents…

The TMTF List of Top Ten Chase Scenes in Film!

10. The Mines of Moria (The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, 2001)

Mines of Moria

Although this chase isn’t as action-packed as others on this list, the Fellowship’s flight from the Balrog in the Mines of Moria ramps up the tension with an awesome musical score and a moment at which they must leap over a chasm as the unseen menace of the Balrog draws nearer. The monster doesn’t appear until the end of the chase, but the mere noise of its approach is enough to send Gandalf, a powerful wizard, running like a spooked cat. When the Balrog finally catches up with the Fellowship, it’s an epic conclusion to a thrilling chase.

I couldn’t find the scene on YouTube, so you’ll just have to watch the movie.

9. Light cycle chase (Tron: Legacy, 2010)

Light cycle chase

Short, sweet and colorful, this race between a Blue Guy and a Yellow Guy is great fun. The lack of music lends an understated realism to the scene; it reminds me of the podrace from the first Star Wars movie, but with brighter visuals and no annoying commentary. This chase also gets an honorable mention because Jeff Bridges.

You can watch this scene here.

8. Escaping the Reavers (Serenity, 2005)

Reaver chase

I was going to put the iconic speeder bike chase from Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi on this list, but then I remembered this little gem from Joss Whedon’s Serenity. It has all the excitement of the Star Wars chase, and also boasts wonderful dialogue and much higher stakes. As an all-or-nothing escape from vicious cannibals, it’s a tense scene… but not so tense as to exclude one or two really funny lines.

You can watch this scene here.

7. Motorcycle chase (Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, 1989)

Motorcycle chase

Indiana Jones is practically synonymous with exciting chase scenes. Every film starring this intrepid grave robber archaeologist has him running away from something. This chase is by far my favorite. I mean, it has motorcycle jousting. It also has Henry Jones’s deadpan reactions to his son’s violent tactics. These disapproving glances, like the relics Indiana Jones picks up on his adventures, are simply priceless.

You can watch this scene here.

6. Fleeing baboons (Tarzan, 1999)

Fleeing baboons

This wonderful chase has Tarzan rescue Jane as she flees a hoard of angry baboons. Sprinkled with droll humor and backed by a lively musical score, this chase also features CG effects that were pretty impressive for the time. My favorite part of this chase? Tarzan’s facial expressions.

You can watch this scene here.

5. Pirate pursuit (Castle in the Sky, 1986)

Pirate pursuit

This chase is one of the best scenes in what may be my all-time favorite film, a classic from the legendary Studio Ghibli. The Dola Gang, a notorious band of sky pirates, pursue an innocent boy and girl into a canyon. When the children hop onto a train on raised tracks, the pirates follow in a rickety automobile. This beautifully-animated scene would be wonderful even without the pirates’ dialogue, which is hilarious.

I couldn’t find the scene on YouTube, so you’ll just have to watch the movie. Seriously, go watch it. Stop reading this blog post and go watch the movie!

4. Race through Bagghar (The Adventures of Tintin, 2011)

Race through Bagghar

Steven Spielberg, bless him, sure knows a thing or two about directing great chase scenes. This chaotic rush down the streets of Bagghar, a fictional Moroccan city, is a joy to watch as Tintin crashes through buildings and over rooftops in a motorbike, trying to snatch a scroll from the talons of a hawk. There’s also a tank and a zip line and some accidental cross-dressing. Really, it’s quite a chase.

You can watch this scene here, but the quality of the clip is very poor; you may be better off just watching the movie.

3. Motorcycle duel (Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children, 2005)

Motorcycle duel

Despite a nonsensical plot, Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children is probably the best video game movie I’ve seen, and a personal favorite of mine. Why? Because it’s packed with scenes like this one, in which the hero wields an oversized sword to fend off bad guys while hurtling down a highway on a motorcycle. Everyone in this scene has superhuman agility and reflexes. There are gratuitous slow-motion shots. Explosions and gunshots punctuate a frenetic musical score. (It’s basically The Matrix, but better.) And this, an extended version of the scene, throws in some helicopters because why not.

You can watch this scene here.

2. Locomotive chase (The General, 1926)

Locomotive chase

Chase scenes are generally frantic, but they don’t have to be. The General, Buster Keaton’s masterpiece, has two phenomenal chase scenes that last at least ten minutes each. In the first, the protagonist chases a train on foot, and then on a handcar, and then on an old-fashioned bicycle, and finally on his own locomotive. In the second, the protagonist’s locomotive is pursued by enemy trains. Everything about these chases is perfect, from Keaton’s deadpan expressions to his ingenious solutions for overcoming obstacles. They may not be fast or furious, but these chase scenes are outstanding.

You can watch part of the first chase here, and you should go watch The General in its entirety. It’s a great film.

1. Toy train shenanigans (The Wrong Trousers, 1993)

Toy train shenanigans

My favorite chase scene in film history has no guns or explosions. What it has is a penguin, a dog, a toy train, a pair of mechanical trousers and a middle-aged man in his underpants. This scene, animated painstakingly in clay, is superb. As I worked on this top ten list, my younger brother asked me if this scene was number one, and added that he would slap me in the face if it was not. It’s that good. This brief, bizarre, brilliant chase through an ordinary English residence is my favorite in all of film.

You can watch this scene here. Please do.

What is your favorite chase scene in film? Let us know in the comments!

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