Car chases are what being an action star is all about. No Bond ever comes unstuck behind the wheel. Steve McQueen handles the streets of San Francisco in iconic style, while Nicolas Cage just about gets away with it in Gone in 60. Their rivals might all be left in their wake, but who comes out on top when the action stars go head to head?
Analysing their most iconic scenes, scoring their ability in line with the standard driving test and enlisting the help of Dr. Lisa Dorn, Professor of Driving Behaviour, we’ll find out. Who wins in the Battle of the Bonds? Has Statham got more than Damon? Could John Belushi really take on Vin Diesel?Start
Austin Powers International Man of Mystery (1997)
He may be driving to take on Dr. Evil and his evil henchmen, but how does Austin handle a tight three-point turn?x 0 0
"Austin’s driving judgement leaves a lot to be desired. A turn in the road should be safe, smooth, under control and executed without touching other objects - including walls. Before attempting a turn in the road, it’s important to check that the road is wide enough. Attempting a turn when there’s no space to manoeuvre means repeated attempts will be fruitless. His basic driving abilities should be seriously questioned."
Back to the Future (1985)
Michael J. Fox
We’ve all seen Marty McFly’s talent in time travel, his ability to hold onto the back of a moving car on his skateboard. How do his skills behind the wheel compare? Does he need to travel back and work on his driving technique?x x x x 0 0
"At least Marty McFly is driving in the car park of a shopping mall with only one other road user around. The problem is that he is driving at speed in the dark. As the light fades, there is less contrast, colours fade and edges become indistinct. The usual advice in a poorly lit area is to use the edge of the carriageway as a guide but as he is off-road. It’s not surprising that he ends up hitting a scarecrow."
Blues Brothers (1980)
‘Joliet’ Jake Blues
Everything is classic about this movie. The suits, the sunglasses, the singing. Even the car chase is what classic movies are made of – running from the law. How does Belushi cope behind the wheel?x x x x x x 0 0
"John Belushi is portrayed as a superior driver to dozens of police officers and he does this by ignoring the risks. Our experiences of danger whilst driving lead us to make intuitive, fast, automatic decisions next time we encounter the same traffic and road event. It’s the most natural way we respond to risk and this system enabled humans to survive during evolution. Past experiences are linked to feelings about whether an action might have a good or bad outcome. Clearly John Belushi has bypassed this evolutionary system by driving at 120 mph in a built up area without breaking into a sweat"
The Bourne Identity (2002)
When you think of Minis, it’s all about the Italian Job, but let’s see how Matt Damon gets on as Jason Bourne when he takes to the streets of Paris.x x x x x x x x x x 0 0
"What makes this drive all the more dangerous is that Jason Bourne is driving at break neck speed when the roads are wet. Bad weather reduces visibility and tyre grip so it’s even more dangerous at high speed because you need a much greater overall safe stopping distance. There is a blatant disregard for pedestrians never mind other drivers and riders. On the occasions that he does use the road, merging with other traffic requires judgement and courtesy – neither of which is on display here."
It’s arguably the most iconic car chase in movie history. But how does Bullitt really handle the driving terrain of the City by the Bay?x x x x x x x x x 0 0
"McQueen doesn’t lose his cool as he side swipes his car around bends and races over blind summits with total belief in his driving abilities. This kind of self-confidence means that his actions are reckless, including approaching junctions too fast, not signalling and driving far too close to other road users. He treats the public roads like a race track."
Fast and Furious (2001)
Vin vs. Paul. They managed to spin seven films out of this basic premise. Working with each other, locking horns against each other, it’s all out the window when they’re behind the wheels of their souped-up motors. How does Vin really get on when measured up by Dr. Lisa?x x x 0 0
"Excessive speed is the biggest predictor of crashes. Speeding increases the risk of a crash, because there is less time and distance available to respond. Our reaction times – about 1 second for most drivers – don’t speed up just because we are going faster. Vin may think he is invincible but in real life there is no margin for error at these kind of speeds. If they want to race they should go on a well-controlled race track and not put themselves and others in harm’s way."
Gone in 60 Seconds (2000)
Randall “Memphis” Raines
He’s finally got his hands on “Eleanor”. Will he handle her with the care she deserves or rack up the minors and the majors in his final getaway?x x x x x x x x 0 0
"Some signs of tension in this drive suggesting that the driver at least recognises the risks they run. Whilst the emergency stop and reversing at speed might suggest a skilled drive, there is nothing skilful about making these kinds of manoeuvres when lives are at stake. He was lucky this time but many road users were nearly gone in 60 seconds in the process."
The Man with the Golden Gun (1974)
Will it be Moore or Brosnan in the battle of the bonds?x x 0 0
"It seems that this driver has strong thrill seeking tendencies. During the manoeuvre, Bond seems to be creating an adrenaline rush in the same way as you might on a ride in a fairground. Flying off a bridge and sending your vehicle airborne offers the driver a natural ‘high’. But watch out – there is a price to pay. Thrill seeking also releases a cocktail of chemicals that can lead to poor decision-making, loss of fine or complex motor skills and reduce your observational skills."
Tomorrow Never Dies (1997)
Surely, James Bond is the man. He’s smooth, calm, collected. He might not be able to see out of the windscreen but he can still handle this custom BMW.x x x x x x 0 0
"Vehicle automation comes in a range of forms, but driving from the back seat is not one of them. The skill set to operate the car using a console is quite different to manual driving and would take weeks of practise. Plus, the mental workload required to operate the range of in-vehicle technologies used means that Pierce would have been dangerously distracted as he ran the gauntlet of trained assassins. Only Bond could survive."
He’s got the smart black tuxedo. His passengers have their seat belts on, could Statham take the crown of most competent behind the wheel?x x x x x x x x x x x x 0 0
"Jason insists that his passengers are wearing their seatbelt but then disables them as he puts their lives at risk. This kind of behaviour suggests he may possess some of the characteristics of a psychopath. He then maintains the eerie coolness of a serial killer as he executes one dangerous manoeuvre after another in a hair-raising scene. He enjoys watching others being shocked and scared by the way he drives."
Ranked by Dr. Dorn we can see that despite Austin’s dodgy driving, he’s the safest of them all. Roger Moore comes out on top in the battle of the bonds. Frank Martin is fearless and just about in control, whilst the deadly Jason Bourne comes in last place as a real danger on the road.Start Over
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Check out the driving test scores of well-known movie icons who’ve found themselves in a car chase or two. If you’re impressed, why not share this content on your website? You can download the creative assets by clicking the button below.Download Press Kit