One of the best opening car scenes despite the movie being about something completely different
I do enjoy a good movie and when there are cars involved well all the better then. I’ve had a lot of time on my hands during this lockdown period and once I completed Netflix, Amazon Prime and Now TV (which didn’t take long), I started going through my own selection of DVDs - remember those?
Over the years there have been multiple movies with car chases vivd enough to etch into our memories permanently. I also think there is a fine line between stimulating the visceral emotions of petrol heads and spewing out pure action. For example if you look back at Ronin, Bullit, French Connection and even the first Taken movie you got the feeling people who liked cars were behind the carefully curated car chases. The original Fast and Furious started out closer to that end of the scale yet as we near sequels into the double digits there has been an overload of action injected into the proceedings. It’s not a dig at F&F, as it’s difficult not to like the franchise for a number of reasons just an observation.
There is one movie though that’s been a favourite of mine because I genuinely enjoyed it and the opening scene was a pure car driven bonus. The strong relationship between a disabled man and their carer was crystallised in the 2011 movie The Intouchables. The opening scene? The two of them driving around Paris in an M139 Maserati Quattroporte. Whoever directed this scene doesn’t just like cars but lives and breathes them, as they managed to capture the enjoyment of night time driving for the sake of it around the street lamp soaked streets of Paris.
You get the opening bars of Ludovico Einaudi’s Fly to subtly set the scene but not overpower, for the real soundtrack comes next - the Masterati V8. They used the actual engine note (it would be sacrilegious not to) during filming and on one instance you can hear the Quattroporte hitting the rev limiter (probably the only car ever to sound good doing so). Where most engines throw a strop and beg for a gear change to calm down, the Quattroporte’s V8 vocal chords continue to impress above and beyond the limit.
I get more of a connection to my car when driving at night, with the interior lights allowing you to focus on just what’s important, the worries of the world having clocked off long before at 5pm and the streets calming down. This leaves the driver free to enjoy every vibration and timbre of the drivetrain. The Intouchables captures this beautifully, and at the thought of recreating this for myself I found a 2009 Quattroporte S with 47,000 miles for just under £20k — so tempting.
Only the Italians can get away with creating a simple four door saloon with a supercar derived engine, flawed dynamics, then name it “4-door” and still have people lust after it.
As I was writing this I noticed that years ago a hanful of CTzens had the same thoughts which you can find by clicking the link below the clip.