Of the three major action movie scenes, the chase can be the most versatile. It can take the form of a traditional car chase, of a motorcycle chase, of a foot chase, or of an ariel chase, a mix of those, or even of some other kind of random chase that further outside the box. It also doesn’t necessarily need to be a high speed affair; sometimes it can be a cat-and-mouse style chase that emphasizes tactics and maneuvers over horsepower.
- Escaping Bill Smoke – Cloud Atlas: This chase scene from the “Luisa Rey” section of Cloud Atlas begins with a car crash and then turns into a foot chase in which a hitman played by Hugo Weaving pursues Halle Berry and Keith David through the streets of San Francisco. I don’t love the ultimate resolution of the chase, but I don’t know, something about the sight of Weaving in hot pursuit just gave me flashbacks to The Matrix.
- Chasing the Bomb – The Dark Knight Rises: Nolan’s Batman trilogy reaches its final climax with this large scale action scene where Batman is in his aircraft and is trying to get to the truck with the nuclear bomb in it in time. Batman needs to dodge a number of guided missiles and then has to pursue the truck until it crashes. Most of the action in this series has been a little more personal, but this scene clearly shows that if Nolan had wanted to compete with the spectacle of Marvel’s superhero films he is more than capable.
- River Scene – The Grey: This scene from The Grey comes after the protagonists have done pretty much everything imaginable in order to ward off the wolves and finally they reach a point where all they can do is run. Of course no human is ever going to outrun a damn wolf so out of desperation they end up chased into a freezing cold river and need to try to keep the currents from pulling them under. The scene ends very badly for one of the characters and that makes this stand out.
- Tunnel Scene – Kill List: Kill List is a movie that keeps you guessing about where it’s going to go next. There are a couple hints early in the film that it would eventually go in an occult direction but still, I doubt many people giving it a first viewing would assume that it would eventually reach a point where the heavily armed protagonists would eventually find themselves being chased through a dark tunnel by a bunch of masked naked cult members with knives. It’s just a really tense and unconventional scene that really stands out in your memory.
- Opening Scene – Skyfall: Though this pre-credit sequence is essentially a giant chase scene, it doesn’t really feel like one because of its fragmented format. It begins as a motorcycle chase between Bond, Moneypenny, and an enemy agent with classified documents on a thumb drive. Bond must then pursue the agent as he boards a train, forcing Bond to employ a every means at his disposal including a backhoe that happens to be parked on a flatbed train car. Bond movies always open on a bang, and this is no exception.