1968's surprisingly influential Bullitt is a precursor to the hyper-explosive action movies that ruled the box-office in the 1980s and 1990s. More immediately, it made car chases de rigueur for nearly every police film of the 1970s. Bullitt's chase scene, a roaring ten minutes up and down seemingly every hill in San Francisco, took about three weeks to shoot; along with the two in The French Connection and the more protracted one in The Road Warrior, the scene is still regarded as one of the best pursuits ever filmed. Apart from this rather dubious legacy, Bullitt is also significant for recharging the crime-thriller genre with its snappy, faux-naturalistic look. Finely stylized by director Peter Yates and editor Frank Keller (who won an Oscar for his work), the film wears its gritty, urban feel on its sleeve; such an attitude would become a major hallmark of American films in the 1970s. Bullitt also elevated Steve McQueen from the status of mere star to that of worldwide superstar. The actor delivers perhaps the most consequential performance of his career as the fashionably icy title character.
by Brendon Hanley review