Tom Cruise and motorcycles seem made for each other. An avid biker, there are so many iconic scenes featuring the superstar and a motorcycle, that it is difficult to pick the best. Is it Cruise as Maverick grinning maniacally as he rides a Kawasaki Ninja GPz900R on the runway as fighter planes take off in Top Gun (1986)? Or could it be the slo-mo sequence on a Triumph Speed Triple and Triumph Daytona 955i in John Woo’s Mission: Impossible 2 (2000), where amidst the flying bullets and flames, Cruise as secret agent Ethan Hunt stops to put on his shades? How about the adrenaline-fuelled sequence featuring the BMW S1000RR in Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation (2015), where Cruise recovering from oxygen deprivation, chases Ilsa Faust (Rebecca Ferguson) in colourful Casablanca? There is also Cruise and Cameron Diaz on a Ducati Hypermotard running away from the bad guys and bulls with furry fringes in sunny Sevilla in the action comedy Knight and Day (2010). Diaz reverse straddling Cruise adds an erotic charge. It is a tough choice indeed and the jury is still out on it.
Trinity is going bye-bye
The Matrix Reloaded (2003), the lame sequel to the super-successful techno-noir The Matrix, redeemed itself slightly with a breath-taking bike sequence. Trinity’s (Carrie-Anne Moss) spectacular entry early on the film whets our appetite for the main course — where Trinity and the Keymaker commandeer a bike strapped to an 18-wheeler truck all the while fleeing the homicidal white-suited Twins.
King of Cool
650cc Thunderbird Triumph TR6 Trophy
As Lt Frank Bullitt, he was part of an iconic car chase (Bullitt) but as USAAF Captain Virgil Hilts in The Great Escape (1963), Steve McQueen rides a bike almost to freedom. McQueen was an experienced racer and did all the stunts himself, except for the barbed-wire fence jump, due to insurance concerns. The jump was done by McQueen’s friend Bud Ekins. His rueful pat on the petrol tank as he is captured says a lot about McQueen’s fondness for bikes.
He’ll be back
1990 Harley-Davidson Fat Boy
The T-800 walks in naked into a bar and says, “I need your clothes, your boots and your motorcycle.” In Terminator 2: Judgement Day (1991), the Terminator (Arnold Schwarzenegger) is sent from the future to protect John Connor, from an advanced terminator, the shape-shifting T-1000 (Robert Patrick). The aqueduct scene where the T-1000 is chasing John in a huge truck, and the Terminator jumps into the canal, is the stuff of motorcycling dreams. Since logically, neither rider nor bike would survive the jump, the bike was suspended on cables to take most of the weight. The cables were digitally erased later. In the gloom and doom of Terminator Salvation (2009), the only relief was the cool bikes. Unfortunately, they were few and far between.
Licence to thrill
BMW R1200C, Honda CRF250R
Though he loves his Aston Martin, super spy James Bond does burn rubber with the best of them. Tomorrow Never Dies (1997), where Bond (Pierce Brosnan) crosses swords with a psychopathic media baron, Elliot Carver (Jonathan Pryce), has Bond dashing away from the baddies on a BMW R1200C handcuffed to the beautiful Wai Lin (Michelle Yeoh).
The pre-credit sequence is an important part of a Bond film, and the motorcycle chase in Istanbul skidding across rooftops of the Grand Bazaar in Skyfall (2012) is rightly described as parkour on wheels. Daniel Craig rides hell for leather as he tries to recover a list of agents from a mercenary. The scene in the situation room, including M’s terse “take the shot’’ adds to the tension.
Don’t call me Junior!
Though Sean Connery is only 12 years older than Harrison Ford, in Steven Spielberg’s Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989), he is a hoot as Dr Henry Jones, Indy’s grail-obsessed father. When Jones Senior goes missing, Indy must fight the Nazis to rescue his father, the Holy Grail and the world as we know it. The bike scene where Indy drives what is supposed to be a Second World War BMW with Jones Sr in the sidecar is funny and thrilling in equal measure.
2010 Honda CRF 450 X
A tough choice between the CGI sorcery and humour of the motorcycle sequence in 2018’s Venom and the sinewy-muscularity of The Bourne Legacy (2012), with the latter winning by a whisker. Jeremy Renner’s black ops agent Aaron Cross’ motorcycle ride in Manila, with a chemically enhanced super soldier at his heels, keeps you on the edge of your seat, while the bike swerves through traffic and skids down stairs and railings.