A rigid, hotshot detective (Steve McQueen) whose star is on the rise is tapped by a shrewd senator (Robert Vaughn) to protect a key witness before a federal mob trial. What begins as a simple, somewhat irritating task turns into a perilous chess game as the officer must chase the perpetrators through the sloping streets of San Francisco, contend with the increasingly irritated politico, and unravel the peculiarities at the heart of the plight. From Robert L. Pike's novel Mute Witness, Bullitt is best known today for its esteemed car chase sequence, and rightly so, but Peter Yates' film is really just a measured, solidly made procedural. While not really functioning as a character study (Jacqueline Bissett's scenes where she tries to make McQueen come to terms with his occupation only really succeed in showing off her great beauty), the movie is absolutely dynamic as a connect the dots mystery and an actioner, even if the plot is somewhat murky. And in the role that defined his career, McQueen clearly demonstrates why he earned his King of Cool moniker.
*** 1/2 out of ****