This one’s about a rookie NYC cop, Megan Turner (Jamie Lee Curtis (True Lies, Virus)), that stops a robbery and blows Tom Sizemore (in his film debut) away on her first day. Eugene Hunt (Ron Silver (Timecop, The Arrival)) was there to witness it and decides to take the bad guy’s gun after he drops it. Eugene then goes on a killing spree with it because you know, he’s insane. He’s also kind of obsessed with Megan and shows his affection by scratching her name on the bullet casings that he uses to murder people.
This is one of those movies where the less you know the better it’ll be. For the first half or so it seems kinda typical and you know where things are headed but then it totally changes direction. And then after that you think you know how things will unfold but again it veers down a stray path. This picture keeps you on your toes and I like that. What starts out as an orderly and seemingly predictable film devolves into total chaos.
The reason why I checked this out is because it was directed by Kathryn Bigelow (The Hurt Locker, Point Break) and I’m a fan of some of her work. This was done in between Near Dark and Point Break, right in the butter zone for a not great but potentially very interesting piece of cinema. And actually I think this one is kind of great.
Jamie Lee Curtis is pretty good in this and was a nice choice because she’s not supposed to be a cop exactly. The story takes place over her first couple of weeks on the force so she hasn’t become this hard boiled callous person. She’s still new to the job and hasn’t experienced a lick of action. Curtis feels right because she’s not totally girly or totally macho. She’s believable as a regular person who wants to be a cop.
But when it comes down to it this is Ron Silver’s show. I haven’t seen him in very many movies but does he always play a creepy asshole? He sure is good at it. I like that they made sure we get that he’s a fucking lunatic but at the same time I also dig that they left things vague. We don’t delve into Eugene’s psyche or are told what his overall plan is. And I think that’s because he doesn’t know himself. This guy’s just making it up as he becomes more and more unstable.
The look of this one is very 90’s Tony Scott-esque (which is good). There are lots of beams of light shooting in from windows that turn rooms into these shadowy smoky spaces. Manhattan feels grimy and seedy. It’s shot well too, especially Bigelow’s superb use of slow motion (a trademark for her). When the guns are fired it’s so awesome because they sound like fucking cannons that have a ton of firepower behind them. I liked the opening credits with close ups of a gun (a .44 or .38 or something that has only six chambers, I don’t know dick about guns) in blue lighting set to a very minimalist score. The end credits also have a cool song that’s kinda eerie and empty.
The thing that might throw people is that this movie is terribly segmented but I think it works because the next section is crazier than the last and as long as you can keep that up you’re good. This is more how I thought Red State was going to feel because Kevin Smith said that when he wrote it he purposely jumped to something totally different when he felt the audience knew where he was taking the story. But I thought that film flowed pretty naturally and worked real well. Sure you’re in a completely different spot at the end from where you started but how you got there makes sense. It’s a fun flick that I recommend by the way. With Blue Steel all of the scenes in the second half are like separate ideas unto themselves. It feels like Bigelow (who co-wrote this) wanted to change the direction of the story and the type of movie it was on a daily basis. That sounds like it should be a fucking disaster but like I said this actually works and keeps things fresh.
There were so many times when I thought the film was going to end but it just kept going. I got excited when it didn’t because I wanted to see what dark alley it was going to take me down next. I had a lot of fun with this picture. It just needs a better title than the generic Blue Steel.