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Bullitt Review

For Families provided by Common Sense Media

OK for kids 14+

Great chase scene still works in violent, classic cop tale.

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this 1968 cop movie remains famous for its lengthy, white-knuckle chase scene through the streets of San Francisco. It's a no-nonsense, grown-up thriller with a focus on characters and details rather than action and suspense. Even though star Steve McQueen is still cool, and even though the car chase still works, some younger viewers may find the movie a bit dull. It does have some grisly shootings, with spurting blood and gory corpses. The main character and his girlfriend share some intimate scenes with no nudity, and there are a couple of choice swear words saved for the film's final sequence.

  • Families can talk about the violence in the film. Why was the main character so nonchalant about looking at dead bodies?
  • The hero does some slightly shady things in order to solve his case and bring about justice. Is he a better person than the ambitious politician Chalmers? If so, why?
  • Is the famous chase scene still exciting? What makes it work? Is it realistic or cartoonish?

The good stuff
  • message true1

    Messages: The ambitious politician Chalmers wishes to bring down a crime syndicate, but also threatens to bring in his own brand of graft and corruption. On the other hand, Detective Bullitt uses slightly shady methods (like hiding a dead body), but in the name of justice. The detective manages to triumph over his more powerful foes, but otherwise a clear message is rather elusive.

  • rolemodels true1

    Role models: Detective Bullitt is brave, resourceful, and willing to risk his career (and possibly his life) to do what he thinks is right. However, he's also emotionally withdrawn and disaffected, unable to truly connect with others.

What to watch for
  • violence false3

    Violence: A few bloody, gruesome corpses, a tiny bit of spurting blood, and some chasing and shooting of guns. In one scene, a car explodes, and we briefly see burning bodies inside. A man brandishes a needle during one chase scene, but never uses it. Otherwise, there are some hospital and autopsy scenes that don't show anything but nonetheless come across as very realistic.

  • sex false2

    Sex: Bullitt and his girlfriend Cathy are seen in bed together, plus some flirting and kissing. She walks around wearing one of his shirts (with naked legs). In one shot, Bullitt stands in front of a strip club, and some suggestive photos can be seen on the wall behind him.

  • language false2

    Language: Very infrequent language, but Bullitt uses "bulls--t" and "hell" during the final sequence. Otherwise, minor words such as "screwed up" and "castrated" are heard.

  • consumerism false0

    Consumerism: Pan American Airlines are shown, but they are now out of business.

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false1

    Drinking, drugs and smoking: Bullitt dines in a bar/restaurant where there appears to be drinking going on, but he doesn't drink. When he wakes up, he takes something from a bottle on his nightstand, but it could be anything (vitamins?).

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