What is truth? Is there such a thing as justice? Who even was Steve McQueen? Mark Steven Johnson’s heist caper Finding Steve McQueen considers these questions and more. The story is told in 1979 by Harry Barber (Travis Fimmel), a superfan who dresses and styles his hair like McQueen to his girlfriend Molly Murphy (Rachael Taylor), who has just had her hair styled to resemble Blondie’s Debbie Harry. Flashbacks recount how on the eve of Watergate in 1972, Barber joined the crew of Nixon-hating gang boss Enzo (William Fichtner) to rob a Laguna Niguel bank rumored to house some $30 million in Nixon’s dirty-campaign funds.
FBI agents Howard Lambert (Forest Whitaker) and Sharon Price (Lily Rabe) are soon on the case, though are stymied by being a Black man and a woman respectively in the 1972 FBI. Though it has many elements associated with post-Tarantino crime films, Finding Steve McQueen manages not to be an irritating slog like so many others of that ilk. Veteran director Johnson knows to prioritize his characters instead of his own cleverness, while Enzo’s motivating anger about bad men like Nixon reaching the highest levels of power without being punished for their crimes has a resonance today. Steve McQueen is gone, and men of poor character still get elected President.
Rated R. Opens Friday at the Presidio Theatre.