Saturday, December 5, 2009

Bullitt. A-

That old Hollywood idea of a rebel cop who unintentionally keeps making one gaffe after another only to succeed in the end generally belongs in the eyes of most to Clint Eastwood in the 'Dirty Harry' series (and on a lesser note as far as quality goes, 'Coogan's Bluff'). Yet the originator of this sort of defiant character really is Steve McQueen, who goes out on a limb to rebel against his peers in 'Bullitt.' McQueen plays Frank, a wise, yet insubordinate Detective in San Francisco. When he's given a job to protect a key witness in a case that will help raise the reputation of a dodgy politician, he takes it easy, thinking it will be a simple mission. But when the witness is shot down one night, things begin to spiral out of control for Frank. He conducts the investigation using his own methods as he tries to track down the man who shot the witness. The plot takes a few surprising turns at the end, but for the most part the film is a typical cop movie the pretty much fulfills all of our expectations. Yet the real strength of the picture is McQueen's character. We sort of understand his decisions, yet at the same time we think either he's being rash or his mind is working a thousand times better than ours. Unlike a lot of cop movies, McQueen doesn't really have any friends or partners (except for his girlfriend, but she also expresses her contempt for his gutsy, violent approach). He's alone in his quest and by the end he's still not convinced that he's done the right thing (which makes the movie a little deeper than most action flicks). 'Bullitt' is renowned for its exhilarating car chase that just sort of pops in about halfway through the movie. Anyone who still hasn't seen the movie will likely go into it looking forward to the chase sequence. It kind of appears out of nowhere, but certainly does not disappoint. Neither does the movie.

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