7 Killer Car Movies Every Gearhead Should Watch (That Aren’t “Fast and Furious”)
Car movies have existed as long as the art form itself. Going as far back as Buster Keaton with some of his wild, death-defying stunts, cars have always had such a long-standing presence in the film industry to a point where they have helped inspire some of the most revered movies of all time. Sometimes it’s a specific car that is the real star of the show. Other times it’s about capturing a high-level of skill behind the wheel on film. Then sometimes it’s just all about seeing a bunch of really nice cars get smashed to bits after a wild chase sequence.
Even though when most people think “car movie” they immediately think of the 10+ “Fast and Furious” films. But it should be known that there are a plethora of other options to choose from that gearheads can love and appreciate too.
The “John Wick” Films
There are two simple rules to not get on John Wick’s bad side. Don’t mess with his dog, and don’t mess with his car. Unfortunately for members of the criminal underworld, they did both, and now they’re paying the price.
As one of today’s most-revered movie franchises, the John Wick films achieved high acclaim not just for the complexity and dynamics of its action sequences, but through their authenticity and commitment to “realness.” Aside from receiving rigorous lessons in hand-to-hand combat, tactical gun training, stealth, and jiu-jitsu, lead actor Keanu Reeves expanded his action star resume by doing all of his own driving across all the films. This just goes to show that Reeve’s character is just as lethal behind the wheel as he is with a pencil.
Steve McQueen was the all-American on-screen hero of the 1960’s and 1970’s. While he is known for such films as The Great Escape, The Cincinnati Kid, and The Getaway, the one film that solidified him as an action movie legend was his role as the no-nonsense San Fransisco detective Frank Bullitt in the 1968 movie, Bullitt.
An already experienced driver and gearhead, McQueen put his skills to the test in what is commonly regarded as the greatest car movie chase sequence in movie history. In this scene, McQueen gets behind the wheel of his Ford Mustang while facing off against his foe in a Dodge Charger through the busy streets of San Francisco. It is even said that some parts of the sequence involved the drivers exceeding speeds of 110 miles-per-hour! Overall, the choreography and execution of this scene set a new standard for future car scenes to live up to.
For fans of Formula One racing, there is no stronger rivalry than that between James Hunt and Niki Lauda. The 2013 biopic centers around the lives of both men, who are remarkable drivers in their own right, and how their relationship developed from bitter rivals to good friends. For anyone that loves the thrill and boost of adrenaline that comes with the race track, this movie deserves a place in the winner’s circle.
“Gone In 60 Seconds”
If there was a movie that oozed the swagger and coolness that comes with being a car guy, look no further than the 2000 film Gone In 60 Seconds. Let’s look down the list of the awesome things this movie has:
- Cool cars
- An ambitious car heist
- Awesomely corny dialogue
- Nicolas Cage
If you weren’t a car guy before this movie, you certainly will start looking up “Mustang GT500’s near me” once it’s over.
“Ford V Ferrari”
Not all races take place on a track. Sometimes they take place in a corporate office. But in the case of the 2019 film Ford V Ferrari, it was both.
This movie follows the true story of Ford’s intense competition against racing colossus Ferrari at the famous 1966 Le Mans race in France. But this story is more than just about the race itself. It follows the lives of the two men that made this showdown possible, Carroll Shelby (Matt Damon) and Ken Miles (Christian Bale), and the months of stress and sacrifice it took to create a race car that would inspire every underdog.
“Mad Max: Fury Road”
Sure, we could talk more about inspiring true stories about some of the greatest minds in the automotive industry. But then again, sometimes we just want some good old-fashioned chase scenes, destruction, fire, and some of the most badass, post-apocalyptic-looking builds ever created! That is where Mad Max: Fury Road comes speeding onto the scene.
Not only was this 2015 film well-shot, but the designs of every vehicle are also well-thought-out down to the finest detail. The sounds. The power. The weathered look. If you are a fan of shiny, polished chrome, the Australian post-apocalypse isn’t for you. Pretty much every vehicle has a message that says “don’t mess with me”, and you’d be wise not to. Unless you wanted your peers to witness you before entering Valhalla.
“Smokey and the Bandit”
If there was a movie that belongs in every car guy’s library, the 1977 film Smokey and the Bandit would be it. Burt Reynolds plays the iconic bootlegger Bandit, who doubles as a skilled driver as he outruns the authorities in his Pontiac Trans Am while charming audiences with his famous fourth-wall-breaking smirk. In stark contrast, Jackie Gleason’s Buford T. Justice portrays the film’s antagonist who has no time for joy, games, or anything light-hearted for that matter. So it is always a satisfying feeling to see Bandit cheerfully escape his grasp one risky chase after the next.