Have you ever stopped and thought about how many great motorcycle movie scenes there have been over the years? I’ve never owned one but I’ve always thought motorcycles were cool especially when our favorite movie stars are speeding, flipping, and jumping them in ways only possible in the movies. So why not look at 5 Phenomenal Motorcycle Movie Scenes? Now this was a tough list to put together because I always like to include a little variety. But there are some iconic motorcycle scenes that I hate to leave off. So here they are. Now I know people will find some popular choices missing therefore I’m not calling this the definitive list. But I have no trouble calling these five motorcycle movie scenes absolutely phenomenal.
#5 – “THE GREAT ESCAPE”
Steve McQueen was one tough dude. He also had an affection for fast vehicles and maybe that’s one reason his motorcycle scene from “The Great Escape” is so good. McQueen, decked out in full Nazi soldier garb, makes his way by motorcycle into a small German occupied village as he tries to sneak out of Nazi territory. There he is discovered which leads to an amazing chase through the rolling Bavarian meadows. The gorgeous scenery is one thing, but watching McQueen handle the bike with Nazis in pursuit is exhilarating. Very little stunt work was needed. McQueen was a skilled motorcycle rider and he even played the Nazis pursuing him in several shots. The sequence climaxes with an amazing jump over a barbed wire fence (this time done by a stuntman). It’s a great scene from a great film.
#4 – “INDIANA JONES AND THE LAST CRUSADE”
There is a wonderful motorcycle sequence in “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade”. Indy (Harrison Ford) and his father (Sean Connery) make a wild escape after being captured by the Nazis. The pair tear off on a motorcycle and sidecar with five Nazis on bikes right behind them. This is a typical Indiana Jones action scene and I love it. They bust through checkpoints, joust with an oncoming Nazi biker, and cause some of the wildest motorcycle crashes you’ll ever see. But as you would expect from an Indy film, humor is a key ingredient to making the scene work. It’s funny enough seeing Sean Connery whizzing around in a motorcycle sidecar. But watching Indy’s childlike exuberance when he takes out a Nazi versus his dad’s scowling show of disapproval is just hilarious.
I love it when I am able to put a newer movie on one of these lists and I have no reservations with including “Skyfall”. Much like “Casino Royale” this film starts with a bang as Bond (Daniel Craig) is pursuing a mercenary who has killed an agent and stolen a hard drive. The chase eventually ends up on motorcycles as the two speed through the crowded Istanbul market streets. From there they go to the rooftops of the Grand Bazaar before ending up on a moving train. This motorcycle chase sequence is utterly insane and a lot of that can be attributed to the profoundly good cinematography of Roger Deakins. This is a pure edge-of-your-seat adrenaline rush and its easily one of the best motorcycle chases of all time. Don’t believe me? Just check it out!
#2 – “SHERLOCK, JR.”
I feel for anyone who hasn’t experienced a Buster Keaton film. He was a true master of filmmaking and physical comedy. For those unfamiliar with his work, “Sherlock, Jr.” is a beautiful starting point. This 45 minute gem is absolutely hilarious and features some of Keaton’s greatest stunts. It also gives us one of cinema’s greatest motorcycle sequences hands down. In this scene Keaton finds himself sitting on the handlebars of a motorcycle. He doesn’t notice the driver is knocked off after hitting a big bump and he zips through a series of insane near-miss obstacles with no one steering the bike. This is truly jaw-dropping cinema. He flies through traffic, skims across a collapsing bridge (while it’s collapsing mind you), and almost gets hit by a train in one of the film’s most amazing shots. Give this silent film a watch. I promise you, the motorcycle sequence with blow you away!
#1 – “MISSION IMPOSSIBLE II”
Many people didn’t care for “Mission Impossible II” but I enjoyed John Woo’s more stylized and action-packed picture. One of the reasons I liked it was the wild and explosive finale. In it Tom Cruise hops on a Triumph motorcycle and flees from a big group of baddies in SUVs followed by the terrorist leader on a bike of his own. Cruise jumps onto bridges, rides through explosions, and gets in a shoot out while going 90 mph. And of course the big showdown comes down to motorcycle versus motorcycle. Woo’s well known visual techniques of moving camera shots and slow-motion gives the sequence an over-the-top kinetic energy that I thought was great. “Mission Impossible II” certainly wasn’t a perfect movie, but its big motorcycle finish is just phenomenal.
Now let your voices be heard. See a pick of mine you agree or disagree with? Let me know. Also, be sure to share your favorite motorcycle movie scene.