Porsche 911 – The Car’s the Star

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By Chris Pollitt

You can’t go out and build a car as iconic as the Porsche 911 and not expect it to become a star. After all, cars and popular culture go hand in hand. However, in most cases film directors and the like have to put a bit of thought into what machine would best suit the needs of their protagonist, or indeed, antagonist. Or of course, they could just choose the Porsche 911, which is exactly what many of them have done. 

Launched in 1963, the Porsche 911 has been a sports car stalwart ever since. It’s captivating lines, it’s power and it’s ability to be a car with presence, but without ego have all added up to it being the dream casting choice for many an automotive movie role. The 911 has been on the silver screen more times than some Hollywood A-listers. Frankly, the 911 should have its own star on the walk of fame. Sadly though, it doesn’t. So instead, we’ve chosen our five favourite on-film outings for the 911 over the years. 

Bad Boys – 1995

Proof of the Porsche 911’s on-screen power was evident from the off in 1995’s action blockbuster, Bad Boys. The opening scene features the car heavily, with Marcus (Martin Lawrence) loudly lamenting the 911’s lack of cup holders to Mike (Will Smith). The car itself, however, also served as the target for two criminals with the worst luck, who decided to try and jack the car. Then, later on in the film, we get to see the Porsche 911 stretch its legs on a runway, hunting down the bad guy who has escaped in a V8-powered Cobra Superblower. Needless to say, the 911 makes light work of it. 

 

What’s interesting about the 911 used in the film is that unlike in other movies, it wasn’t simply a car hired in. It was actually owned by the film’s director, Michael Bay. The car, which wears French plates (Paris in case you’re wondering), was also incredibly rare. A 1993 3.6 Turbo II, it was just one of a thousand built that year.

Atomic Blonde – 2017

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2017’s moody, deeply stylised action flick, Atomic Blonde, had it all. There was a killer soundtrack, some incredible action scenes, fantastic direction and of course, a Porsche 911. Because if you’re making a film set in the 1980s, you need a Porsche 911. The model called on here was 1989 Carrera, and was driven by David (James McAvoy) as part of a rescue attempt on Lorraine (Charlize Theron). Lorraine, who has been duped into getting into the wrong car after arriving at Berlin Airport has to try and escape her captors. David, who has figured out what’s going on, follows in hot pursuit.

 

Admittedly, most of the action is in the Audi V8 saloon, as Lorraine uses her oh-so pointy shoes to take out her captors. This, combined with some clever hand-to-hand combat, sees the Audi flying through the air before landing on its roof – which we’re still unhappy about, as those Audi V8s are rare, but we digress. David, who has been in hot pursuit in the 911 comes to a cinematic stop before rescuing Lorraine. It’s not so much what the car does in the film, more how it does it and how it was shot. It shows the power of the Porsche 911’s design. This simply wouldn’t have worked with any other car.

Commando – 1985

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Seriously, who doesn’t love a ’90s action flick starring Arnold Schwarzenegger? 1985’s Commando had it all, from bulging biceps, gratuitous explosions, many guns and of course, deadpan one liners (Bennet, let off some steam). It also has some tip-top vehicular action going on, too. The most noteworthy bit of the film has to be the chase between a Sunbeam Alpine and a Porsche 911 Targa. This time though, the Porsche is being driven by a sleazy bad guy, Sully (David Patrick Kelly). Our good guy, Matrix (Arnie) is in the Sunbeam.

 

The chase winds through the streets of L.A, before meandering up into the hills to where the Sunbeam delivers a blow to the 911, sending it into the weeds and onto its side. The Sunbeam crashes into a telegraph pole, destroying it in the process. Matrix, who is on the hunt for the men who kidnapped his daughter, flexes his muscles by dangling Sully by the leg over a cliff. He gets the info he needs, before ‘letting him go’. But now what to do? The Sunbeam is a wreck? More muscle flexing and the Porsche is pushed back onto its wheels. But watch the side of the car that’s been smashed in considerably. When the car drives off, all the damage is gone!

Against All Odds – 1984 

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Against all Odds, despite starring James Woods and Jeff Bridges was… not very good. The plot was something to do with a gangster (Woods) hiring a football player (Bridges) to find his girlfriend. Because when you need a person found, you obviously ask a football player. Anyway, Bridges falls in love with the girlfriend, obviously, and things get a bit complicated. There’s some bad acting, some meandering plot, some more bad acting and that’s about it. It’s not great. Except, that is, for one bit. We are of course talking about the car chase. 

 

Woods, in a Ferrari 308 and Bridges in a Porsche 911 Speedster, engage in a street race that will have you watching through your fingers. In heavy traffic, these two cars battle it out for a solid two minutes. The race is so close. And we mean physically. The cars comes within an inch – quite literally – of hitting each other. The picture car coordinator must have been sweating bullets while all this was going on. There are no gratuitous crashes, no explosions, no law-breaking physics. This is just two outstanding cars being driven on the very ragged edge, and while the film itself may not be great, we have to thank it for bringing this into the cinematic universe.

Death Race – 2008

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When it comes to some ‘brain off’ popcorn entertainment, there is little that can beat the Death Race series. It’s just silly, car-based fun. And it also lends itself to this list, given that one of the cars featured is a Porsche, namely a 1978 SC. Or at least is was, a long time ago. There is nothing standard about the car in the film. It’s armoured to the hilt with box-section bumpers, window guards and steel plates. It’s been fitted with weapons, too, such as mortar cannons, missiles and machines guns and on the whole, it’s pretty bad ass. At least as movie cars go. In the real world, with all that extra metal, it would be so very slow indeed.

 

The car is driven by the Racer 14k, and unlike a lot of the other races, this one seems to last a decent amount of time. Probably something to do with German engineering and the like. However, even the Germans couldn’t have planned for the Dreadnought, a tanker truck converted to be a rolling arms factory. In the end, the SC comes a cropper and ends up pinned in front of the truck before being blown to bits by the truck’s tank. Interestingly, the car does appear in Death Race 2. Being a prequel, we get to see more of this fine armoured machine in action. Get that popcorn ready.

 

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