Finding Steve McQueen (2019) – Film Review
Director: Mark Steven Johnson
Cast: Travis Fimmel, William Fichtner, Forest Whitaker
In 1972, a gang of thieves plan a heist to steal $30million in illegal campaign contributions from Tricky Dicky’s secret fund.
Based on the true story of the Youngstown mob, President Richard Nixon, the FBI, and the biggest bank heist in US history, director Mark Steven Johnson’s fun crime caper is a loving throwback to the era of The Osmonds, The Partridge Family and that seventies West Coast USA vibe.
Though it’s as light as a meringue, the cast are terrific, especially William Fichtner, who has long been one of my favourite actors. Having spent decades propping up hit and miss blockbusters like Armageddon, The Dark Knight and The Lone Ranger (2013), here he provides a masterclass in how to act naturally. At no point did I think: “There is a guy trying to steal screen time,” but rather he’s living that part, in that era, and there’s a lot to be said for that.
“Warm, fuzzy feeling”
Director Mark Steven Johnson is one of those film-makers that has aimed for greatness in the past, but been hampered by the studio system, not enough cash, or a lead actor who is way too old for the role. So while his 2003 take on Daredevil (one of my favourite comics, thanks for asking), was hugely flawed, and his Ghost Rider saw Nicolas Cage doing his manic Nic Cage thing, despite being a decade too old for the part, MSJ still had a good crack at the material.
Here he’s more in his comfort zone with a project that feels far less compromised.
If you’re a fan of cult movie Vanishing Point (the original), then the car chases will also give you a warm, fuzzy feeling as our hero evades the authorities.
The script by Ken Hixon and Keith Sharon strikes many a right chord, and the cinematography by José David Montero successfully gives us a heady flavour of the era.
It might not be as accomplished as Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood, which many will compare it to, but it’s a great diversion nevertheless.