Bullitt is almost a bigger disappointing movies than Shaft – and this one already was a big disappointment.
It’s no wonder everyone praises Bullitt for its car chase. There is nothing else you could praise the movie for. It’s baffling how many scenes drag on, some scenes don’t even belong to the plot at all, the editing feels sloppy and the characters do nothing much except being silent. Steve McQueen almost pulls a Steven Seagal by having only two or three facial expressions in the whole movie. Was that modern in the 70s? Thank God those times are over because that’s not the way to make me really care for the character or the stuff at stake here when even the main character doesn’t give a shit about what’s happening.
The most frustrating thing is that compared to Shaft, this movie even has a somehow interesting plot because of a major twist. Okay, that some witness dude gets gunned down in a hotel room by his former criminal colleagues is nothing new or thrilling. But I loved the idea that the shot guy wasn’t The Guy, but some no-name dude The Guy used as a way to feign his own dead. That’s a quite clever idea in a time in which sending an image over the phone line was so technically advanced that the movie shows us in a boringly long sequence how this wonder works.
But the plot never really got a chance to shine or to be at least more interesting than watching a screensaver. Bullitt uses any chance possible to strive away from the ongoing plot by showing massively unrelated stuff I didn’t care about. Be it watching Steve McQueen eating in a restaurant (with nothing happening) or watching him purchasing some frozen food (with more nothing happening). And the more…
The worst part of it all is this: even the plot related stuff is played the same boring way. Heck, Steve McQueen’s character Bullitt screwed up big time by losing one major witness in a seemingly important case we never hear or see anything about. But does he show compassion or something else that remotely might remember us that his job might be at stake? Or that time works against him? Nope! It feels like “Oh man, another boring day with my boring job”. Has Bullitt some kind of death wish throughout this movie I didn’t get? At least that might explain his facial boredom and the fact he almost never draws his gun even when he’s pursuing a cold blooded killer in a hospital. Or did he read the script in advance so he knew the killer wouldn’t jump at him any minute after realizing his pursuer doesn’t have any gun in his hand?
Speaking of pursuing: I think no review can live without at least mentioning the one car chase everybody talks about. With ten minutes of rather intense action this segment of Bullitt stands out like a hooker in a church. It doesn’t fit into this low-key, boredom inducing, non-caring movie at all. At least the characters even don’t give a facial shit during that sequence most of the time. The guys looked as if they’re driving their grandmothers to shopping, not taking part in a high speed chase with their lives at stake. You can’t imagine how glad I was when the bad guy finally started to show some emotions on his face.
The car chase itself (without the Faces Of Boredom) must have been a revelation for that time that is for sure. Unfortunately to the fans I am not a child of that time and so the best thing I can say is that the car chase is okay, but it is far from being the best ever. Yes, it was influential and amazing for its time and many tried to copy it. But there are some movies like Ronin or Bourne that succeeded in upping the ante tremendously. So let’s go with Bullitt’s car chase being the okay-y godfather of car chases, shall we?
For the rest of the movie I still haven’t found quite a category yet. Does Boredom Inducing Doom fit?
Boring and bored characters, unfocused and dragging screenwriting, sloppy editing. That’s Bullitt in a nutshell. In light of this personal revelation of mine it’s no wonder anymore why everybody first and foremost talk about the car chase. Seriously, the car chase is the only thing you need to watch.