Here we have one of the more classic “guy” movies of all time. This week we take a look at Bullitt from 1968 and what we see is not surprising. What we have here is a standard cop drama involving shoot-outs, organized crime and someone getting vary angry at the lack of results that will make them look bad in the coming election year. I know what you are saying, and I agree, it does sound a lot like every other cop drama ever made. The only thing Bullitt is missing is the breaking in of a new partner at the outset of a big case. This film contains a great deal of silence, which is not always a bad thing, but in this case it does not serve a purpose. Usually a director will choose to cut back the sound in a given scene in order to build suspense or tension. This forces us to focus on the visual elements and dread the explosive …whatever that comes next. This is not the case in Bullitt.
In addition to the dead spots of sound that plague the film quality of the sound in general is not great. The dialogue is muffled at times and effects is only average. So why is this film heralded as being so iconic? The easy answer is the revolutionary car chase that takes place mid way through the film. At the time it was a huge effort to put together a car chase of this size and speed. The chase takes up around 10 minutes of the film and I must say it is pretty cool. That being said one cool scene does not a great movie make. This taps into one of my greatest pet peeves about Hollywood movies: movies are not about having one great scene in mind then throwing the most generic story and characters around it to give it context. As far as Bullitt goes there is little else to remember it by outside of the one car chase.
All negativity aside there are some redeeming features of the film. One of these that stood out was the occasionally great shot composition. The landscape of San Fransisco lends itself to some excellent shots and the ones we get in the film are very well done. Beyond that Steve Mc Queen did a pretty good job based on what he was given to work with. His character was rather one dimensional but he did his best with it. At the end of the day Bullitt is worth a watch since it is reasonably entertaining and and we all know Steve Mc Queen is just oh so charming in that bad boy sort of way.