Top 10 movie getaway scenes

Steve McQueen and a motorbike take on the Nazis in The Great Escape.
Steve McQueen and a motorbike take on the Nazis in The Great Escape.

Don't do the crime if you can't do the time. Hang on, shouldn't that be "don't do the crime if you haven't figured out a really good way to get away with it"? Who goes into committing a crime expecting to do jail time for it? If you make $100,000 from robbing a bank but then spend ten years in jail you're better off spending that decade working a toilet cleaning job. So yeah, while the actual crime in a movie is usually pretty exciting, it is - as these ten scenes reveal - the getaway that really counts.

10: The Getaway

Doc "no, not the one from Star Trek" McCoy (Steve McQueen) has had a gutful of prison, but his early release comes with a catch: he's got to do a bank robbery with a couple of guys who'd kill him soon as look at him. So he kills them first, takes the money (and his wife), and heads for the border. This isn't director Sam Peckinpah's best film (it's a lot better than the 1994 remake though), but even on a bad day he's better than 99% of Hollywood. Plus the real getaway here is leading lady Ali McGraw getting away from her husband (and the film's producer) Robert Evans and into the waiting arms of McQueen off-screen, who she later married.

9: Matrix Reloaded

Okay, enough time has passed that we can all admit that while the last two Matrix movies were obviously not that good, they did contain a bunch of scenes that were very good indeed. Or even just one scene: the car chase from The Matrix Reloaded, in which Morpheus, Trinity and, er, a guy with a bunch of keys who's called The Keymaster (no sexy cosplayers dressing up as you, my friend) have to escape from regular cops, agents, those razor wielding ghost twin guys and a whole bunch of regular "duh, what's happening" drivers. Not only is it full of great moments - c'mon, Morpheus takes out a car with a sword - but they constantly escalate in a way that the films as a whole just don't. A motorbike race through traffic? Yeah, that's pretty badass - but how about doing the same thing into oncoming traffic a minute later?

8: The Robber

Based on a true story, this German film tells the tale of an ex-con marathon runner who finances his training by robbing banks - the twist being that rather than leave a car outside with an engine running, he sprints away from the scene of the crime at a speed the unfit cops can't match. But what is he really trying to run away from? Wait, I can do better: But the one thing he can't run away from... is himself. Yeah, I could totally get a job writing movie trailers.

7: E.T.

Kids on bikes versus cops in cars? This is going to be one short chase. And hey, even if they do outrun the cops, there's a whole bunch of guys in suits just waiting to rush out and grab them. Yep, call this one in boys, these kids are toast. We just got to... wait... what the... they're flying?  Kids have got flying bikes now? When did they start selling those in stores? Now the chief is going to kill me for letting those kids get away, and my kids are going to kill me for not getting them hover bikes. This day sucks.

6: Under the Tuscan Sun

After her marriage comes to a sudden end, Frances (Diane Lane) decides to get away from it all and moves to Tuscany. Hey, not all getaways involve high speed chases and gun battles. Sometimes you just need to escape into the sun while a bunch of probably illegal Polish workmen repair your deathtrap of a country villa before your pregnant lesbian BFF shows up.

5: The Great Escape

Once again Steve McQueen is on the run, only this time it's from Nazis and the only way to get to Switzerland is by jumping the fence. This is a classic scene, despite [SPOILER oh wait this movie is fifty years old] McQueen not actually managing to get away because a): the bike jump is still super cool even today and b): it would have been extremely lame if he had managed to escape because even movie Nazis aren't stupid enough to make a border fence low enough for someone to jump over.

4: Dirty Mary Crazy Larry

What was wrong with people in the seventies? This whole movie is basically one long getaway as Peter Fonda and his buddies hit the road after extorting $150,000 out of a supermarket owner (so they can start a career in NASCAR, of course). Eventually they outrun everyone and then (can you have a SPOILER ALERT for a 40 year old movie? Okay, SPOILER ALERT) the movie ends with this here clip. That's right: this was how the movie ended. And people didn't burn the cinemas down. Again, what was wrong with people in the seventies?

3: The Italian Job

Yes, sometimes smaller is better. After stealing a bunch of gold, Michael Caine and his crime crew escape through the streets of Rome in a trio of Mini Coopers, which you wouldn't think would make for the best getaway cars until you realise that the streets of Rome are extremely narrow and packed with obstacles. Sure, the police could just call ahead and set up roadblocks and so on, but shut up this is a great movie.

2: The Graduate

One of the all-time classic endings, this underlines a vital fact when it comes to getaways: make sure you know where you're going. Sure, he's got the girl and she's escaped a crap marriage, but what's next? Making the perfect getaway with the woman you love is all well and good, but if you don't have a plan - if you haven't even figured out that aside from the whole 'love' deal you don't even have that much in common - then you're not really getting away from anything. Maybe not even that church: considering their stunned looks it'd be no surprise if they forgot to get off the bus before the route takes them right back where they started from.

1: The Blues Brothers

"You want out of this parking lot? Okay." The big chase at the end of The Blues Brothers gets all the attention, but as that isn't technically a getaway let's go with the oft-overlooked scene where Jake and Elwood Blues try to lose the cops by taking a shortcut through a shopping mall. Naturally the place gets destroyed, though it's a toss-up which is funnier; the insane levels of wanton destruction, or Jake and Elwood's deadpan descriptions of the various stores as they drive by in a whirlwind of devastation. "Disco pants and haircuts." "Yeah." "Baby clothes." "This place has everything."

Sydney Morning Herald