5. The Matrix Reloaded (2003) - Two Trucks Enter...
While it's not a great movie (though leagues ahead of the final installment) the freeway sequence may be the last really entertaining part of the Matrix trilogy. With its impressive stunt work and creativity, it gives us a solid dose of vehicular wreckage.
The climax of the whole scene is when two 18-wheelers collide head first into each other with a crazy bullet-time shot of the trucks crumpling up like coke cans and erupting in flame and smoke. It may already be looking dated today with the CG effects, but we have to admit at the time, we were all blown away by such an epic crash.
4. The Triplets of Belleville (2003) - Grandma Plays Chicken
I'm sure you hadn't expected to see an animated film on this list, and if you did, I bet it wasn't this one. The Triplets of Belleville is a great movie with tons of character and creativity. But what it has in spades is weirdness, and Jesus Christ is it weird!
The movie centres on an elderly woman named Souza who is on a quest to rescue her grandson from kidnappers. The journey takes her and her dog across the ocean all the way to the big city where they finally track down her grandson and pull off a daring escape while in hot pursuit by the evil captors. What makes it more interesting is that the bad guys seem to own the shittiest and most fragile cars on earth and that leads to hilarious crashes.
When it gets down to only the Boss remaining, Souza faces off against him, even though he is in a car, and she isn't. What she does to defeat him is nothing short of awesome: She trips the car. I know, I know! That doesn't make sense, but it's great. The car goes careening out of control off a bridge. I laughed so hard when I first saw it. The whole movie is available in pieces on youtube, but I highly encourage you to watch it, or at least the final sequence. It may be animated, but it is a truly one of a kind crash.
3. Blues Brothers/ Blues Brothers 2000 (1980, 1998) - Police Car Pileup
I decided to put these films together since they both make great contributions to the history of crashing cars for comedic effect. At the time they were released each one broke the record for most cars crashed on film. That's a great achievement.
Whenever I watch these movies I get the distinct feeling that 90% of the budget went to buying cars, painting them up like police cars, and then totaling them. If you haven't seen these movies, you really need to. Nobody outruns the police is such a ridiculous fashion like the Blues Brothers. The sequel may not live up to the original, but it's worth watching for the pileup alone.
2. Deathproof (2007) - Hold Tight
One of my favourite movies from recent years, Quentin Tarantino's Grindhouse flick is pure entertainment wrapped up in a roll cage. I don't know what that means, but let's go with it.
The film has a fantastic conclusion with a memorable chase scene that deserves to be recognized for the stunt work alone. But I don't care about chases, I want collisions, and there are few better than the one that closes the first half of the movie by graphically killing off nearly every main character. We get a maximum speed head to head crash shown four times in quick succession to see the fate of each passenger...and it is gruesome. It's a surprising, impressive, and unique car crash, and I may not want to go driving at night ever again.
1. Final Destination 2 (2003) - Highway to Hell
The Final Destination franchise is one that seems to get a lot of hate, but I can't really understand why. Yes, the 3rd and 4th movies are "straight to video" level bad, but every one is entertaining. As far as modern horror is going, I'd much rather watch characters get killed by Death's Rube Goldberg Machine, than watching the torture porn of 22 Saw films. Seeing someone trapped in a face-smashing machine isn't as suspenseful or as fun as waiting for someone to be killed by a pencil or a folding chair or...SHIT watch out for that box of coat hangers!
Anyway to get to the point, FD2 follows the formula of the first film by opening with a ghastly premonition of some big deadly accident, and this time it's a tragic highway pileup. Hats off to everyone involved in this sequence because it is truly truly spectacular. It starts off with a truck spilling massive logs all over the road, a police car getting turned into a kebab, and from there a chain reaction of disaster ensues. Please check it out.
Not only are the crashes well executed and shot, but the whole sequence plays on our driving fears. What if something goes wrong and I can't get out of the car because of my seatbelt? What if something falls off that truck in front of me? What if something gets jammed under my brake pedal? It's like a beautiful ballet of the worst possible circumstances. It's frightening, it's entertaining, and it's the best car destruction put to film. Period.