Reviews: Bullitt

Dodge This Bullitt

So, after hearing the movie mentioned on Blue Bloods, my father and I decided to check this infamous movie and, I have to say, the chase is basically the only thing worth showing up for.

The movie is essentially a Police Procedural turned into a movie. The events follow Lt. Bullitt on the hunt for a hitman who is trying to assassinate a witness for a trial. However, even the actual police work isn't even that heavily focused on. Instead the story is just following Bullitt around as he follows up on hunches. There's no actual investigation (except for one scene towards the end) and the character interaction doesn't really make up for it. Bullitt's only real lead about who the hitman is ends up being a nurse panicking when she sees him in the stairwell of the hospital and Bullitt following him, so he never has to collect clues about the man's identity. The plot twist near the conclusion might have been better but the sluggishness of everything preceding it washed it out for me.

Yes, the big chase scene is everything it is played up to be. Creative (for the time) cinematography and stylish driving from both the perp and Bullitt is engaging and fun. The ending is hokey but I may be suffering from Seinfeld Is Unfunny. But just about everything else in the movie is terribly paced and sleep-inducing. Meaningless camera shots that don't add anything to the atmosphere, stretched-out scenes that bog the pace, and uninteresting dialogue drags the viewer through to the relatively anti-climactic conclusion. The protagonist gets zero Character Development, even when confronted by his lady friend about his line of work, and doesn't ever inspire audience investment.

The movie feels very true to The '70s (so the lack of technical prowess is made up for by focus on the characters) but good storytelling is time immemorial and Bullitt never finds its legs. Watch the chase and avoid the rest.