These Are The Most Exciting Car Chases In Film According To Science

Illustration for article titled These Are The Most Exciting Car Chases In Film According To Science
Photo: Rich Fury (Getty Images)

Everyone who likes car chase movies has their favorite classic. Whether it’s Bullitt, The French Connection, or even Fast and Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw, you’ve probably got a few favorites, and you probably have strong feelings about them. But what does science have to say about how truly exciting those chases are?

Advertisement conducted a study to rank the car films that have the most thrilling chase scenes by analyzing the heart rate of 100 participants who watched the films’ most exciting car chases. The original list of films was compiled through lists of favorites, of which there are many—people have been debating the relative merits of their favorite films since film began, so it would be fairly simple to get a list going.

The results of this study, though, were fairly surprising to me. Max Max: Fury Road came in first place, with the average BPM of the viewer being 85, or a 33 percent increase over the average resting BPM of the audiences.

You can check out the full results on the website linked above, but the top 10 films are as follows:

  1. Mad Max: Fury Road
  2. Fast & Furious 6
  3. Furious 7
  4. Ronin
  5. Baby Driver
  6. The Fast & The Furious
  7. Quantum of Solace
  8. The Bourne Supremacy
  9. The French Connection
  10. Batman: The Dark Knight

Purists of the car chase genre are going to be pissed. My husband had a lot to say about the omission of the chase scene from Bullitt and the inclusion of The Bourne Supremacy and not The Bourne Identity. 

But the study is coming from a quantifiable scientific standpoint, specifically analyzing heart rate as opposed to everything else that goes into making a scene iconic. With Mad Max: Fury Road being basically 120 uninterrupted minutes of car chase, you’re going to have a lot more opportunities to raise a heart rate than, say, during a much more low-key scene like in Bullitt. We remember that scene because we remember the iconic streets, the realism, the jumps. It’s exciting, but it’s not beating you over the head with action the way Mad Max: Fury Road does.

The study also includes some other fun facts:

  1. The Matrix Reloaded was the most destructive movie of the bunch, with 300 cars wrecked
  2. Gone in 60 Seconds included the longest chase, clocking in at 40 minutes
  3. Furious 7 brought in the big bucks, at $1.5 billion
  4. Fast & Furious 6 is the fastest and most furious film of the franchise
  5. Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson is apparently the fastest and most furious actor in the franchise

I’ll let you discuss the finer points of the study in the comments—but I have to admit, I’m quite excited to see what y’all have to say.

Weekends at Jalopnik. Managing editor at A Girl's Guide to Cars. Lead IndyCar writer and assistant editor at Frontstretch. Novelist. Motorsport fanatic.



Bullitt didn’t make the cut because half the test audience was asleep by the time the car chase started.

It’s an awesome scene, but the rest of that movie is awful.