Memorable Rooftop Chase Scenes in Movies
If you have ever been on a rooftop in a large city, you may have looked over at the next roof and wondered if you could make the jump. Movies have taken this particular urge out for a run, using it as the basis for some of the greatest chase scenes in movies. Action movies are particularly fond of the rooftop chase, but movies of all types have put their protagonists on the roof when it comes time to crank up the drama. Below are some of the more memorable rooftop chases in cinema, ranging from the sublime to the outright absurd.
James Stewart’s rooftop chase in Vertigo set the bar for what a rooftop chase could be. It may not have been as high-stakes as what came later nor as intricately shot, but this chase involved a major story point in the film. It is a rare chase that sets up a story rather than finishes it – just one of the pleasant surprises from Vertigo.
The recent James Bond film was pure adrenaline, as anyone who saw the opening moments ought to have guessed. A rooftop chase is one thing, but adding a motorcycle to it brought things up to a new level. While this was certainly not the first time that James Bond has been on a rooftop, it certainly felt like the chase was new.
Sometimes, a rooftop chase is more about the ending than the action. In the Untouchables, a rooftop chase is an important part of the plot – and in fact, an important part of the film’s endgame. While everyone would have loved to see Elliot Ness chase down Capone over the skyline, the more subdued chase after Nitti had just as much emotional weight and showed a major turning point in the film. Spoilers abound in the end result of the chase, but movie fans can never quite look at Elliot Ness in quite the same way after viewing this particular scene.
Men in Black
Men in Black embraced silliness and weirdness from the beginning, but it took a moment on a rooftop for the story to get its legs. Will Smith’s Jay chases after a criminal through New York, going across all manner of obstacles (including, yes, rooftops). It is a final confrontation on a skyscraper rooftop that clues him in to just how weird the world can be, though.
The Italian Job
This one might be a bit of a cheat, but 1969′s great heist film did feature a bit of rooftop driving that is certainly as memorable as any other chase on this list. While more of a getaway than anything else, the scenes of the Mini Cooper driving on rooftops are unforgettable. These scenes are probably why the movie was remade in the 21st century, but nothing quite captures the pulse-pounding goodness of the original film.