I had approached the film with a little trepidation given its elevated cult status, especially amongst men of my age. And perhaps it’s because I am a man of my age (midlife crisis ‘n all) that I found it enjoyable. Yes, I wanted to be the good cop Bullitt/Steve McQueen and drive as dangerously as he, whilst being as cool as ice despite being under immense pressure from a ghastly mix of powerful politicians and ruthless mobsters. The film has some fantastic chase sequences through the streets of San Francisco and set the trend for other films to follow including The French Connection, The Driver, Smokey and the Banditt and was even spoofed on one of my favourite ever filmsWhat’s Up Doc?
That’s not to say you won’t be amused by certain aspects of the film that may not have aged as well. Apparently before 1973 it was quite possible for someone to smuggle a gun on board a plane unchecked. Unthinkable now. And there is a moment where the main characters stand for what seems like several minutes whilst an enormous fax machine clunks and whirrs through it’s machinations only to produce a single carbon copy sheet of A4 with a suspects fuzzy picture on it. But “oh the suspense” whilst we hung around waiting for it to stop clanking and crunching.
The only drawback to this film is that you may find yourself, like I, having to verify certain aspects of the story on the IMDB before being completely satisfied how all the ends tied together. But at only 110 minutes you are left pining for the days when films, like this one, literally “cut to the chase!” Too many films these days try for epic status but fill up the time with faff. Just like the formulaic crap that, as I began, is currently on at my local cinema. Enjoy a night in.