March 4, 2005
Bullit is probably best remembered as the Movie with the Cool Car Chase. This 1968 Steve McQueen vehicle is famous for its furiously exhilerating chase sequence through the streets of San Francisco, and it's not surprising that it inspired countless filmmakers to try and top it. When seen on the big screen, I'm not too sure if anyone ever has. I don't think action movie fans can die at peace until they've seen the Bullit chase in a theatre.
On the other hand, the actual movie itself is far less satisfying. The plot centers on Steve McQueen as tough, break-all-the-rules cop who is assigned to protect a star witness before his appearance in a govermental inquiry. I'm sorry, but I could care less. This is the exact same storyline from just about every cop show made in my lifetime. It's been recycled as Dirty Harry and Death Wish, as Rambo and Arnold and Chuck Norris and Steven Segal and too many others to mention. For some of you, this may be a good thing, but for me it isn't.
Paving the way for white man revenge fantasies is not a good thing. Perhaps this is why Yates injected his preachy social commentary into the mix. But isn't it a little dishonest to shoot up the screen and scold us for looking at the bodies? I don't buy it for a second. The only difference between Bullit and Dirty Harry is that Steve McQueen kills people and then feels guilty about it.
Is that preferrable? That's kinda like saying Johnson was better than Nixon.
So, to quickly recap, Bullit is the horribly overrated movie with the Cool Car Chase. If that's how you get your jollies, then good for you.