…Who Caused Mass Civilian Casualties.
I suppose this list was made before the release of Man of Steel, a movie whose detractors instantly note must have had thousands of civilian deaths during the fight between Superman and Zod.
Regardless, the points made in this article are spot on:
Though I loved to see them when I was younger, whenever I see a car chase in a movie nowadays I can’t help but slip into “old man” mode and cringe at some of the crashes presented. Perhaps its because I’ve driven for as many years as I have and I can’t help but think, when seeing these carnage filled chases, about the civilians in the line of fire.
Understand, car chases remain incredibly exciting if done well, but if one looks at the very early examples of car chases in film (Bullitt, The French Connection, and The Seven-Ups), there is quite a bit made of how the hero has to avoid hurting civilians and, when they do somehow get in the way of the chase, pains are made to show that the civilians aren’t hurt by the chase.
Here’s Bullitt’s famous car chase scene, arguably the very first elaborate modern car chase sequence:
Notice there are very few civilian vehicles on the road during this chase and even fewer civilians walking the streets. In fact, for a big city like San Francisco, the streets look almost eerily empty! Note too that the only civilian that gets in the way of the chase is found in the second part of the video, when the action moves from San Francisco to the outskirts of town. A motorcycle rider falls but the filmmakers make it clear with a quick shot that he may be shaken but otherwise gets to his feet. As for the gas station at the end of the sequence, one can only guess it was closed and no one was in it at the explosive finale as the scene after no mention is made of casualties.
Next up, The French Connection:
What this film does (apart from the fact that it isn’t really a car chase but rather a car chasing a train), is up the ante of Bullitt by introducing that for the most part missing civilian danger. Here we have the hero fighting to get to the villain but also having to deal with civilians both walking around and in other cars. Note how the hero avoids them and what crashes there are tend to not be as destructive as some of those noted in the cracked article above.
Finally, the car chase from The Seven-Ups:
First off, your eyes don’t deceive you. The man driving the villain’s vehicle in this movie is Bill Hickman. the same stunt driver/actor who also drove the villain’s vehicle in Bullitt. He also had a role in, and was the stunt double of, Gene Hackman in The French Connection as well! Clearly Mr. Hickman played a big role in modern cinema’s car chase elements.
Returning to The Seven-Ups, much as I liked that car chase, by this point it was obvious the film’s makers were essentially repeating the Bullitt car chase but with added civilian threats and a conclusion that twists that earlier movie’s ending as the villains survive the chase but the hero is stopped.
I only present these chases to give you an idea of how far things have gone since these early elaborate chases (Bullitt was released in 1968, The French Connection was released in 1971, and The Seven-Ups was from 1973) versus what we see now in films such as Furious 7.