April 30, 2018  (Web Review)

Steve McQueen: American Icon

(2018) 79 min. DVD: $19.98. Universal Pictures Home Entertainment (avail. from most distributors). SDH captioned.

Reviewer rating: 2.0/4

What looks on the surface to be yet another adoring documentary about iconic actor and “King of Cool” Steve McQueen turns into an evangelical film that focuses on his late-in-life conversion as a born-again Christian. Filmmakers Jon Erwin and Ben Smallbone, who specialize in faith-based movies, present a conventional overview of McQueen’s life (growing up poor and abandoned) and career, with clips from his breakthrough TV show Wanted: Dead or Alive up through his big screen hits—from The Magnificent Seven through Bullitt and The Towering Inferno—with Gary Sinise providing narration. The gallery of interview subjects is limited to friends from McQueen’s late life (including his third wife Barbara Minty and his pastor, Greg Laurie) with Mel Gibson providing comments on McQueen’s art and influence as an actor. But the film is more interested in offering a psychological portrait of a restless soul with no family who turned to fast cars and motocross for thrills. The filmmakers conclude that McQueen finally found meaning when he embraced the Christian faith and the last third of the film is focused entirely on his spiritual life at the expense of his battle with cancer and controversial treatment at a discredited experimental clinic in Mexico before his death at the age of 50. The spiritual focus may interest some viewers but there are better documentaries and more insightful portraits of the actor, such as Steve McQueen: The Man & Le Mans (VL-1/17). Extras include extended interviews with Minty and Gibson, a message from Laurie, and a featurette on the original Bullitt car. Optional. Aud: P. (S. Axmaker)