Chris Nashawaty
January 27, 2012 AT 05:00 AM EST

Drive (2011, R)
What dark secrets fuel Ryan Gosling’s cooler-than-cool getaway man? This spare and stylish homage to the macho early films of Michael Mann never says. Not that it matters, because whenever he’s behind the wheel, chewing on a toothpick, Drive is a brooding, pedal-to-the-metal blast. A-

Ronin (1998, R)
John Frankenheimer knew his way around a car chase. This late-career crime thriller about a Robert De Niro-led band of mercenaries burning rubber on the snaky roads of the Côte d’Azur is loaded with doozies. B

To Live and Die in L.A. (1985, R)
If you can get past the dated Wang Chung score, William Friedkin’s dizzying return to his French Connection roots packs some serious wrong-side-of-the-road mayhem…and one of William Petersen’s best pre-CSI roles. B

The Blues Brothers (1980, R)
Buried beneath John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd’s ex-con comedy lie some of the most death-defying demolition-derby stunts ever choreographed. And why not? They’re on a mission from God, after all. B

The Seven-Ups (1973, PG)
Before he tangled with a great white, Roy Scheider hightailed it in this underrated undercover-cop flick featuring a chase that’s a symphony of smashing fenders and screeching tires. B

The French Connection (1971, R)
Obvious? You bet. But no summary of the genre would be complete without Gene Hackman’s white-knuckle smashterpiece. Look out for the lady with the stroller, Popeye! A

Bullitt (1968, PG)
It’s simple math: Steve McQueen plus a V8 Mustang plus the hilly streets of San Francisco equals 10 of the most heart-pounding minutes in movie history. Buckle up! A-

You May Like