By popular demand . . .

After I put up the car chase from “The Seven-Ups” a couple of days ago, a number of readers wrote to claim that the chase from “Ronin” was better.  I’m not so sure.  After all, it’s far less believable than the earlier one – for example, just look at the way both cars mount the kerb early in the chase.  If you tried that for real, in those same cars, you’d be looking at busted CV joints and bits and pieces of bodywork bouncing down the pavement.  No way!

However, I’ll admit that if you’re willing to suspend disbelief, it’s enjoyable and very tense.  Judge for yourself.  It’s worth watching it in full-screen mode.

Personally, I prefer older car chase scenes like those in “Bullitt” or “The Seven-Ups” – I just find them more believable.  However, for gee-whiz hi-tech editing tricks, stuff like “Ronin” isn’t bad at all.  (Yeah, I’m an old fart.  Deal with it.)



  1. As you say, IF you suspend your disbelief, the Ronin car chase is a great one.
    On top of the mechanical problems those cars would get in real life, you have to suspend disbelief about where they are driving.

    Anyone who knows Paris somewhat well can tell you that there is no way, the chase can take place on those different roads since 1) they're all over Paris and 2) there is no way to directly get to any one location at any point in the chase from where the cars were previously. For example, To drive on certain roads or streets, they had to cross the Seine four times overall, back and forth, but they only show it being done once.

  2. If we're going to allow creative editing, then the near 120 mph pass they made under the El in the Blues Brothers deserves a mention.

    Especially since they really did it at speed.

  3. The trouble with CG now is, if you drive a car – any car, but especially a modern one – headlong into a brick wall, it won't be the wall that breaks.

    But that's not dramatic.

    Hollywood frakking with people's understanding of how reality works isn't new, but it's worse now.

  4. Dead Pool, the last Dirty Harry movie has a terrific and very funny riff on the Bullitt chase scene.

    That model car…

  5. Interesting that you liked the Bullit chase scene – I found it completely impossible to like OR believe.

    The soundtrack seemed to be from a completely different movie: there were throttle blips to rev match on the UP shifts, the engine note never matched the apparent speed, and I don't believe the stunt driver (McQueen himself or not) even had a driver's license.

    Maybe it was the handling traits of ALL American cars of the time, but if that green machine was the best that the US car companies could build, then it is not surprising that they went broke.

  6. Sendarius:

    for the most part, factory Mustangs handled like shit. (Shelby re-designed his Mustangs front end suspension geometry to enable them to go around corners.) My stock '65 Fastback V8/4spd Mustang had trouble hanging with my friend's '60 Chevy Wagon (Delivery Wagon?) in the woods roads. My car was leaving rubber in corners, and he was just moving smoothly. My '71 wasn't any better.

    Steve McQueen was a race car driver (LeMans, Daytona, etc) so he would have been familiar with transmissions that had no shifting synchros. I suspect that is why he was shifting like that, habit perhaps, and it does sound cool.

    Also, Mustangs mostly came with ridiculously tall rear end gearing, which may explain the engine note to speed.
    My '65 came with a 2.80 diff. When I looked in the junkyards for a lower ratio, the best I could find was a 3.00 rear. My factory stock, auto trans '71 came with a 4.11 Detroit Locker (built for a drag classification). Both should have had the others rear gearing, frankly.

    Steve did the early driving, then the bigwigs saw the daily takes, and decided it was too unsafe for the lead actor to be hazarding himself. BTW, they trashed 3 Mustangs making that movie. It was reported that after one scene, when he opened the door, it fell off! Lot of stress on a car, driving like that. Even a race track beats a vehicle to an early death.

  7. It's worth having a look at the extras on the Ronin DVD to see how they didi some of the chase work.

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