Bullitt is back — or, at least, he will be soon. The legendary detective, who led one of the cinematic world’s most iconic car chases, is being revived by director Steven Spielberg.
Bradley Cooper has inked a deal to play Frank Bullitt, a challenging task considering the role was originally played by Steve McQueen in the 1968 film, “Bullitt.”
What’s yet to be revealed is what Cooper will be driving as he chases bad guys around the streets of San Francisco. In the original movie, he drove a customized, highland green Ford Mustang. The “Bullitt” name has since been emblazoned on a series of special edition pony cars, the latest launched by Ford in 2019.
An iconic car chase
The original film received somewhat mixed reviews for its plot and acting. But what makes it a legend is the 10-minute chase scene generally considered to be the best ever to be put on film. It saw McQueen’s detective frantically going after two hit men in a Dodge Charger as they roared through San Francisco and, eventually out into the Bay Area suburbs.
One of two heavily modified Mustangs used in the film sold for a record $3.74 million at auction in January 2020.
The new film is being produced by another Hollywood icon, Steven Spielberg who will serve as its producer. Cooper — who played the lead in films such as “A Star is Born,” and “The Hangover” — will serve double duties, with a coproducer credit.
A family affair
Both Steve McQueen’s son, Chad, as well as granddaughter Molly McQueen, have also signed on as executive producers. And Academy Award winner Josh Singer is credited as lead writer.
Details have yet to be released but Spielberg’s production company has signaled that it won’t attempt to remake the original. Instead, the new film is expected to serve up a sequel to the original 1968 adventure.
But it’s widely expected to follow the same formula, heavy on action and likely to include some high-octane car chases.
Actor Steve McQueen saw the original “Bullitt” as “a Western, with the car strapped on like a gun,” said Danny Bilson, professor of Cinematic Arts at the University of Southern California.
What will Bullitt drive this time?
What car Cooper will drive is the other question yet to be answered. While there are plenty of manufacturers who might like a shot at giving him a ride, it would seem Ford has an inside lead.
The automaker has kept the Bullitt name alive with a series of special editions over the decades, the most recent model introduced in 2019. The limited-edition Bullitt Mustang delivered 475 horsepower and 420 pound-feet of torque and was done up, of course, in the same highland green paint as the Mustang McQueen drove.
“It’s badass,” declared granddaughte, Molly McQueen, who helped introduce the 2019 Mustang Bullitt at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. “This car does something that really channels the spirit of my grandfather.”
There’s some speculation Ford could use the film to help send off a new Bullitt model, this one to be based on the next-generation 2024 Mustang it revealed at this year’s Detroit Auto Show.