There is a rich tradition in American cinema that arises from time to time that Midwesterners (at least this one) tend to admire greatly. This tradition goes back decades, and has shown up in drama, comedy and now, in science-fiction, with the upcoming release of Jupiter Ascending. I am talking, of course, about the Chicago Chase Scene.
The cityscape of Chicago has so much to offer the movies. Much like New York, only better. The L train, the subway, a river winding through downtown with countless bridges, upper and lower streets, Lake Michigan providing the border and beautiful vistas. Okay, so maybe it’s a lot like new York. You’ve seen Chicago streets on display whether you know it or not. From Divergent to Ferris Buhler’s Day Off to Adventures in Babysitting. It’s a great city to run through.
There have been many films that have partaken, but few have been as crazy and enthralling (and simply unexpected) as that in the new film from Lana and Andy Wachowski. In recognition of the Wachowski’s stunning achievement, here are the top 5 Chicago Chase Scenes in film history.
5. The Hunter
The final film in the career of Steve McQueen is not a particularly remarkable one. But it has some great action, and a classic chase scene culminating in a car driving off the Marina Towers.
4. Batman Begins
Nolan knows how to use a space as well as anyone, and he doesn’t disappoint in Batman Begins. The city streets of Chicago offer directors a candy-store of options, and here it is the Upper/Lower Wacker Drives that Nolan uses with great effect. Nolan comes back to the model in The Dark Knight, but it’s just not quite as exhilarating as it was the first time around.
3. Jupiter Ascending
What the Wachowski’s do with Chicago in their long, strange sci-fi chase scene is just a wonder to watch. It’s all movie-magic, there’s very little physical reality to the scene, no concreteness to the city that Channing Tatum is gravity-surfing through. But somehow it works, here, and leaves you speechless.
It’s worth seeing Jupiter Ascending if just for the Chicago Chase Scene.
2. Blues Brothers
There’s not much to say about the mall car chase scene in the Blues Brothers other than this: it’s the perfect car chase. Fully contained, and fully practical (they found an empty mall and drove cars through it). And through it all, Jake and Elwood.
And then, the greatest car pile-up in movie history.
1. The Fugitive
The entire film is a chase scene, through Chicago and its surroundings. Expansive in scope and thrillingly executed, it’s the classic trope taken to the greatest imaginable lengths: a two-hour chase through an entire county and city. There’s trains, helicopters, hospitals, streets and, of course, sewers.