In this blog I aim to save you all some time! Some of you will remember strolling the isles of your local Blockbuster video spending lots of time deciding on your evening’s entertainment. I definitely do. The debates, the arguments and then the inevitable wrong decision. As anything to do with engines and wheels was always a draw to us as kids these were the films we gravitated towards, so this instalment will focus on the “car films” I think deserve your time. I admit some entries are seriously films you have to see and others are just pop corn rubbish I enjoy pointing out the flaws in as I am sad like that. I will give you an example… Do you remember the “Transporter” films with Jason Statham? Remember the S8 Audi Quattro spinning its rear wheels on the bridge to jump onto the train? Ugh I think people for miles heard me shout “its bloody four-wheel drive”! at the screen. Nobody in the room cared so I sat there stewing at this blatant oversight.
I am sure some of you will sympathise and others will be rolling your eyes. Both reactions are justified. I am also sure some of you will have favourites I won’t mention, for this I apologise.
The only film that warrants being first on the list is “Bullitt”. The car chase in this film with the king of cool Steve McQueen driving the 1968 Ford Mustang 390 GT 2+2 and the bad guys driving the Dodge Charger 440 Magnum was ground breaking. Watching and listening to these muscle cars sliding clumsily around the streets of San Francisco is enough to make anyone smile. Sure, the continuity is non-existent with crashes showing no damage a split second later and hub caps pinging off in all directions but miraculously back on the car in the next cut……. who cares! Turn up the sound and enjoy the chase scene. After that I wouldn’t fault you for turning it off. The rest of the film is rather vanilla.
The French film “Taxi” from 1998 is next up. Written by Luc Besson this film spawned a total of 5 attempts. The first one is all you need to see. Sounds odd to say this but I love the Peugeot 406 in this awesome action extravaganza. I will accept the plot and the acting leave some room to be desired, but the chase scenes are just so good. The enthralling way it is shot is so engrossing and if the giddy child in you doesn’t grin from ear to ear when the normal looking white Taxi lifts itself on hydraulic struts, sprouts a spoiler the size of Wales and swops its normal taxi wheels and bumpers for something very Max Power then there is something wrong. Sounds terrible doesn’t it but just trust me on this one. The sound and cinematography are absolutely superb making this a must see!
Fast & Furious? Well how can we not mention it! Like so many they got progressively worse but anyone who says they love cars but didn’t enjoy the first film is a liar. I remember leaving the cinema and driving home like my house was on fire and I was not alone! The tragedy that befell Paul Walker casts a shadow over these films now as he died in a car that was being driven in a way the films depict but the man loved his cars and sadly he won’t be the last. If you can ignore the yank high fives and all the other factors that will make you cringe here, you will enjoy yourself. Never again will more nitrous be used in a two-hour sitting. What more do you want!?
Eleanor…. Oh Eleanor…. Possibly the most beautiful car in the world. Shame about Nicholas Cage being typically wooden, but nothing can spoil the 1967 Shelby Mustang GT500 this film revolves around. Much like “Singer” Porsche’s today this Mustang took the timeless styling of the GT500 and coupled it with modern engineering. The GT500 is so stunning it makes me ache. Makes me yearn to own it which sadly I never will. Years later I saw the car in person and it did not disappoint. It is flawless and the attention to detail is second to none. Perfect. This car aside, the film is packed full of scenes featuring a vast array of exotic cars from the high end to flame throwing low riders. The famous scene where Cage jumps the GT500 is frankly ridiculous but the chase scene leading up to it with the Police perusing in the BMW is top notch. Oh, and one last thing about this film that absolutely needs a mention. Angeline Jolie with blonde dread locks……. sweet Jesus! Worth buying for that alone……….
Now we can’t chat about car films which basically focus on car chases with mentioning “Ronin”. Robert De Niro sits behind the wheels of another Peugeot in this epic chase believe it or not! The 406 somehow manages to duel with a BMW 535i that has twice the power but this minor fact aside it is widely renowned to be the best car chase of all time. A great fact about this film I love is that during filming the chase scenes where De Niro appears to be driving he is simply sat next to a stunt driver who is actually controlling the car. The steering wheel on De Niro’s side is a dummy and when you know this you can see real fear in his face during the scenes. Imagine driving at high speed as cars come towards you in all lanes and steering wheel does nothing! If you watch the oncoming cars you can spot them flashing their headlights at the stunt driver sat next to De Niro. One flash for left, two flashes for right was how they avoided head on crashes so no wonder De Niro was feeling twitchy! Unlike some of the others the rest of the film is also excellent so if that one has slipped through your net then be sure to find time for it.
Others to mention are “Italian Job”, “Drive”, “Mad Max”, “Rush”, “Days of Thunder”….. the list can go on and on but in my humble opinion the above-mentioned offerings are not be missed.
If you do believe that you are not a petrol head until you have owned an “Alfa” then I would argue you are not a Petrolhead unless you have seen ALL of these films.
THE AUTO VIPMO