Friday, January 4, 2008

Best Five Car Sequences of 2007

You know you’re in for a hell of a car chase (and insurance nightmare) when it begins with the words “Sir, he drove off the roof.”And that’s exactly what amnesiac assassin Jason Bourne does when he finds nine trillion government agents on his tail.
Director Paul Greengrass’ hand-held shaky cam ups the visceral-factor, as the ill-fated Audi crumples to the tarmac and Bourne trades it in for an NYPD car. As Gmen close in, he turns human pinball, battering his way out of blockades. Metal screams, glass rains and rubber burns as Bourne finally meets his match in the form of a VW Touareg and a solid metal road-barrier, leading to a rail grind that’d make a pro-skateboarder blanch, and one of the most incredible crashes you’ll ever see. James Bond who?

The car chase in this Brit action-comedy from the team behind Shaun of the Dead isn’t exactly the longest (a minute or two at best), but damned if it isn’t an absolute riot. It’s even more fun because it caps off a dizzying, bullet-filled climactic showdown between supercop Nick Angel and, err, ahh, the Neighbourhood Watch Association of Sanford Village.
Laughs fly as fast as lead does in this spoof of/homage to every testosterone-heavy cheesy Hollywood cop flick. After taking out most of Sanford’s evil-octogenarians, Angel and goofy sidekick Danny Butterman floor their humble standard-issue Vauxhall Astra to catch the ringleaders who are trying to get away in… a Vauxhall Astra. It’s a thundering, screeching chase that is ended by the only creature alive who can do it; a swan. Fuzz yeah!

Quentin Tarantino’s half of the Grindhouse double feature gives us two car chases that are by turns malevolent, funny, audacious and downright evil. Sequence one involves the movie’s villain, Stuntman Mike (an oily Kurt Russell) stalking four women by night in his “death proof”stunt-ready car, which he then uses to smash into them at full-speed, obliterating them. Sequence two involves Mike trying it again only to have the hunt go balls-up when his new quarry roars back. The genius lies in Tarantino’s lovingly old-school treatment of it all.This is his love-letter to the old days, and its never more evident than in one marvelous bit when the two cars, all soul and passion, a Chevy Nova and a Dodge Charger burst onto a busy patch of highway that seems populated with only gleaming, soulless new Nissan-types.They really don’t make ’em like this anymore.

In high school, somebody must have voted Die Hard supercop John McClane “Most Likely to Deliver Fatal Roundhouse Kick to Superman’s Career”given the sort of stuff he pulls off.
Returning for a much-overdue fourth outing, the seemingly indestructible Bruce Willis finds himself in a hairy situation inside a tunnel. Hearts sink and bowels clench as McClane’s evil-hacker nemesis plunges the tunnel into darkness and then throws it open to traffic. From both directions. As headlights bear down upon him from either side, McClane tosses the car around and avoids becoming squishy meat at the heart of a metal sandwich, only to find a leadloaded helicopter waiting for him at the other end. Not to be outdone,The Shiny Headed One yippie-kay-yay’s the chopper to its fiery end using a police car, in true McClane style.

Transformers isn’t a movie; it’s a threehour sugar rush on four wheels designed to squeeze every last drop of adrenaline out of your system. It’s a non-stop spectacle of whirring metal (brought to life by some of the most detailed special effects ever) and action that entertains, thrills and ultimately exhausts you. It is, also, a concept that can’t go wrong; giant warring robots who disguise themselves as the coolest hardware on the planet (a jet, a helicopter, a Camaro, a Peterbilt truck). It’s so good it makes General Motors look like loads of fun.
We won’t even bother picking one sequence out of the lot because we wouldn’t know where to start. Is the bit with Blackout, who goes from attackcopter to stomping robot and takes out an entire military base, the coolest? Or is it the Bumblebee versus Barricade smackdown? Or is it our first look at big-daddybot Optimus Prime? Or is it the Optimus-Megatron face-off? They’re all just brilliant!