Top 10 Movie References in GTA Games


The Grand Theft Auto franchise has been built on a sense of familiarity. From the Scientologist themed gang in GTA2 through to ads for America’s Next Top Hooker in GTAIV everything in this world is an exaggerated and twisted version of our world, the absolute worst our society taken to an extreme. Movies seem to be the primary influence on the series, and to mark the much anticipated release of GTAV we have our ten favourite movie references from the past entries in the series.

Easy Rider

Vice City

Easy Rider Vice City

Peter Fonda rode the iconic stars and stripes chopper in this 1969 American classic, and it turns up in Vice City, commonly riden by the local bikie gang. Peter Fonda voices ‘The Truth’ in San Andreas, a character similar to his role in Easy Rider.

Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery

London 1961

Austin Powers GTA

The first spin-off from the original Grand Theft Auto throw the player back to swinging London, putting them behind the wheel of Austin Power’s ‘Shaguar’, riffing off the recently released spy spoof. The car from the UK espionage series The Avengers also turned up.

The Godfather

GTA3

Godfather GTAIII

One of the leading crime families in GTA3 was rather unsubtly named the ‘Leone’ family, a clear reference to the Corleone’s who are central to The Godfather trilogy. Some resemblances and nods turn up throughout the game.

Friday the 13th Part 3

Vice City

Friday the 13th Vice City

It isn’t unsurprising that the most famous mask in cinema makes an appearance in the GTA series. During an elaborate bank robbery Tommy and his gang disguise themselves with jumpsuits and hockey masks, a deliberate nod to the iconic slasher.

Taxi Driver

GTA

Travis GTA1

Even the very first GTA started with the movie references right from the get go. Players are given a couple of mug shots to chose their character from (which has no bearing on the rest of the game at all). One of them, Travis, bears a striking resemblance to Travis Bickle, played by Robert DeNiro in Taxi Driver.

Terminator 2: Judgement Day

San Andreas

Terinator 2 San Andreas

Picking out classic action scenes and letting the player live out them in virtual form is one of the draws of the GTA series. One of the best occurs in GTAIII spin-off San Andreas, sending CJ through the cities drain system on a motorbike while being pursued by a truck, mirroring the fantastic chase from Terminator 2.

Behind Enemy Lines

GTAIV

Behind Enemy Lines Niko

The completely unremarkable Owen Wilson actioner (from early in his career when they thought he could carry an action movie) would be largely forgotten if it wasn’t for this bit of trivia. Sasha, a sniper played by Vladimir Mashkov, became the primary inspiration for GTAIV protagonist Niko Bellic. Although Mashkov was offered the role he declined to lend his voice to the game.

Speed

GTA

Speed GTA

Back in the top down original game players get tasked with stealing a bus. Once on the way you get a phone call telling you to keep the SPEED of the bus over 50mph. If the SPEED of the bus drops below the limit then the SPEED with cause the bus to explode. I think the mission was called ‘The Bus that Couldn’t Slow Down’.

Scarface

Vice City

Scarface Vice City

Being one of the most popular and iconic gangster movies of the 1980s, it’s natural that it would be referenced in the 1980s set Vice City, especially as it’s set in the GTA equivalent to Miami. There’s a few nods throughout the story, costume and sets reflect the film and the finale is practically a remake. Plus you might chance across the grisly aftermath of the infamous chainsaw scene.

Boyz ‘n’ the Hood

San Andreas

Boyz n the Hood San Andreas

John Singleton’s seminal film about gang violence in Los Angeles plays a massive role in shaping the game. Dialogue is quoted in the story and by random people on the streets, areas of the map are based on scenes in the movies, visuals are recreated and even the pedestrians you encounter resemble the characters from the film. 

All that’s left now is to go and find out what movie references GTAV has in store for us!