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Why The Jack Reacher Car Chase Scene Is Better Than We Remember

1970 Chevelle SS vs 2005 Audi A6

Jack Reacher, the protagonist of over 30 novels and short stories by British author – Lee Child. The story revolves around a former US Army police officer, Jack Reacher, and the series is very successful around the world. Fifteen years after the first book came out, we finally got a movie in 2012 courtesy of Paramount Pictures starring Tom Cruise as Reacher. In the film, Jack investigates the case of a former US Army sniper who killed five people. The whole movie is a cat-and-mouse game between our protagonist, law enforcement officers and the real bad guy.


About two-thirds of the way through the film, we get to see an intense 5-minute chase. It’s a three-way chase as the lead detective, Emerson, tries to arrest Reacher. In the scene, Reacher tries to run from the police, as he grabs a sedan that has been following him since the beginning.

The chase sequence is quite interesting and important to the plot. But it is rarely included in lists of the best car chases in movies. But we have a feeling that if you step back and pay attention to the details at second glance, you realize it’s very underrated and quite exciting.


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Jack Reacher’s 1970 Chevelle SS in action

In the movie, Reacher drives an absolute legend of a car: the 1970 Chevy Chevelle SS that he requisitioned from someone else. Jack Reacher gets involved in a chase with the accomplices driving a 2005 Audi A6.

In the chase, the Chevy takes quite a bit of damage. The Silver Audi, on the other hand, ran away at the end with a few small scratches. The opposing henchmen in the Audi escaped before Reacher could catch them. A 1970 Chevrolet Chevelle SS 454 has a 450-horsepower 7.4-liter Big-Block V8. The base Audi has only about 250 horsepower in its arsenal.


But a car with modern technology and AWD has its own advantages, and the Audi held its own against the monstrous Chevy in the movie. The narrow streets and tight corners also helped. The police officer’s 2000 Crown Vic wasn’t far behind, but the main chase was between the Chevy and the Audi. At first glance, a rather strange combination. But they capture the personalities of the characters that drive them.

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What makes it a great car chase?

One of the most important things for a great car chase scene is plausibility and authenticity. Without it, filmmakers can try out different tools such as smart editing and visual effects. They can also add music to distract you from focusing on the driving itself. But director Christopher McQuarrie went the other way. McQuarrie and the team choreographed a scene that focused mainly on the driving itself. There are no air cannons, unnecessary explosions or entrenchments. There is also no music. All we get to see is a spectacular film sequence of cars in action, supplemented by the roar of the engine and the screeching of the tires. This puts a huge responsibility on the shoulders of the actual driving. Thankfully the drive was on point and entertaining to watch.


The next cool thing about the scene is the location. Jack Reacher drives through an urban environment, through industrial buildings. Here the twists and turns are narrow, tight and frequent. So if they lose focus for a moment, they’re standing on the sidewalk and bumping into a pole, tree, or building. That’s why the whole scene is tense and compelling. It leaves the viewer enthralled and the ending is a genius idea from the writers.

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Behind the scenes of the recordings

Once we got to know the process behind it and the effort that went into it, we loved it even more. It should come as no surprise that Tom Cruise, being Tom Cruise, did all his driving himself. In one scene, when Cruise’s crashed the Chevelle into tons and brought the car to a stop. But Tom improvised and was able to kick in the classic muscle before cutting the scene. The director decided to leave it in the film, adding authenticity and an organic atmosphere. The production team used two cars to film the entire series. Using multiple but identical samples to produce car stunt scenes is standard practice in the movie industry. One was used for outdoor shooting and the other was an armored Chevelle to crash and take hits. It also provided interior shots of Cruise driving it.


In addition, all stunts were performed in real time, not an ounce of CGI was used in the shooting. When filming car stunt scenes, there are always variables that get out of hand for the producers. During filming, one of the Chevelles jumped over a high curb and broke the drive shaft. Good thing they had more than one. It’s really impressive how they planned the scene and worked hard to choreograph it. The film delivered a chase scene that is not only fun, but also unique and something new.



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