Scott Hardie: “It was ok.”
Oddly (or perhaps not), I was reminded of "2001: A Space Odyssey" while watching this film. Both are revered as the apex of their genres, but both are also such dreadfully s l o w pictures as to become difficult to watch. While Kubrick was inviting us to ponder our place in the cosmos with his blank passages, this one seems to suggest that its characters are often lost in thought, scheming and calculating and pondering their place in the "sewer" that is organized crime. That's great, except that we are left out of the loop: There's scant dialogue for minutes at a time, as we cut between shots of the plane taxiing to the terminal and Bullitt waiting for it and the plane taxiing to the terminal and Bullitt waiting for it and the plane taxiing to the terminal and Bullitt waiting for it. It's the kind of film that makes you wish your DVD player could skip 30 seconds at a time like a TiVo. I'm all in favor of movies that inspire deep analysis, but not while they're still taking place!
Whatever the frustrations of its pacing, the film has appeal, from McQueen's self-assured cool to the simplicity of its central mystery to the much-vaunted authenticity of its locations and bit players. And of course, there's the sensational car chase sequence, which is invigorating and totally convincing. If "Bullitt" were stripped of its centerpiece, it would no longer be a classic, but it would still be a worthwhile thriller. I just wish I could strip it of some of its dead time between the good stuff.