Blue Steel (1991)

Director: Kathryn Bigelow
Starring: Jamie Lee Curtis, Ron Silver, Clancy Brown, Tom Sizemore . USA. 1h 42m

We always assume that the police force are highly attentive and can sniff out a bad guy a mile away but just like everyone they have moments where they are as vulnerable as you and I, and it’s during one of these moment of vulnerability which catches a rookie cop off guard and leads to a crime wave in New York City.

Jamie Lee stars as Megan, a rookie cop full of pride at her achievements and eager to be a great cop she finds herself suspended on her first day when she blows a low life criminal ( Sizemore) away in a convenient store when he holds the place up, with her high level of enthusiasm she doesn’t remember what happened to the gun she knew he was holding and is suspended for killing an unarmed man. Unbeknownst to New York’s finest the gun is now in the hands of Eugene Hunt (Silver) highly stressed commodities trader who’s slowly become unhinged and is now totally in love with Megan as sees her as a death goddess. Megan, after being taken to the cleaners by the powers that be, headed by Nick Mann (Brown), is soon reinstated when a body turns up with a bullet, with her name carved into it.

It’s quite interesting as the viewer gets to see everything played out and has to watch Megan struggling against red tape and her own heart to work out what’s going on around her, but as she’s a rookie she’s allowed to make a lot of mistakes. Curtis is good in her role but Ron Silver really steals the show with his dual personalities and nightly bloodlust tours on the streets. He’s the low life high light of the film.

Bigelow is now known for her highly stylized, harder hitting thrillers blended with action Strange Days (1995) and even goes as far to make the thriller into a horror Near Dark (1987) , and likes to have a strong lead up against a gang of misfits Point Break (1991), her technique often sets her against eh big guys of Hollywood and this badass cop film is often credited to Oliver Stone, some of the european DVDs has his name as director on them (he did help produce so…) but with her obsession with filming at night it gives her movies a really dangerous edge to them, there’s a particular stand out scene where Euguene has slain a hooker and is naked, roaring on top of a skyscraper covering himself in her blood, his depravity has no shame and is a perfect blend of her (then) latest obsession of vampires mixed in with her admiration the Hitcher (1986) and having Eric Red on board, the connections with the cat and mouse psychopath hot on the heels tale is ever present.

Death is the best kick of all. That’s why they save it for last.

Eugene Hunt

There are more Bigelow signatures as the movie winds down, the love of slow motion action scenes which really takes over the final showdown which is almost just missing a few samurai swords and long grass as the inevitable clash of wills turns into a violence showdown filled with a mix of emotions as the ex lovers show their true colours.

As a thriller Blue Steel really works, with Bigelow’s distinct dark style it’s the perfect story for her, she can play with her characters flirting with death at night, but it’s a cop thriller that forgets it’s a cop thriller, the investigation isn’t the focal point, it’s how Megan is dealing with the world coming down around her, but a bit of forensic investigation would have edged the film into an early version of Se7en (1995)

Blue Steel, is as hard hitting as the name suggests, but with it’s energy it brings a new edge to psychopathic thrillers, that somehow still manages to explore the difficulties of being a female police officer and while bigging up the fairer sex for the strength, maybe there’s a little big of Katheryn in this film afterall? For me this is one of the better thrillers of 1990, keeping on point and giving Ron Silver the opportunity to give one of his best performances as the deadly killer who’s path of depravity is a rocky unhinged road that’s glorious to behold.


Rating: 7/10


Related: The Loveless (1981), Near Dark (1987), Strange Days (1995), Black Rain (1989), Se7en (1995), Hitcher (1986)

Lists: New York Films, Cops on the Run

Spotlight: Jamie Lee Curtis, Ron Silver, Clancy Brown, Kathryn Bigelow

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