Thanks to The Hurt Locker cleaning up at the 2010 Academy Awards, director Kathryn Bigelow has become a household name. Naturally, one would be excited to see one of Bigelow’s earliest films. Unfortunately, Blue Steel didn’t live up to my expectations. The script drags and stalls, and Megan Turner (Jamie Lee Curtis) is a heroine I had trouble feeling sorry for.

Within 24 hours of her first shift, Turner witnesses a robbery and manages to kill the potential robber. (Fun fact: The robber is Tom Sizemore. This film is his movie debut and he went on to play roles in two other Bigelow films, Point Break and Strange Days.) All is well for Turner until investigators realize no gun was found at the scene of the crime — which means Officer Turner used “excessive force” when killing someone who attempted robbery without a gun. She’s suspended from duty.

During her suspension, Turner meets Eugene Hunt (Ron Silver) and begins falling for this man: his helicopter, fancy dinners, and general charm. But Hunt carries a secret: he’s the reason Turner received her suspension, as he took the gun from the robbery crime scene. Hunt begins a killing spree throughout New York and etches “Megan Turner” on every bullet. This prompts the police department to reinstate Officer Turner as part of the homicide unit, in hopes that she will lead them to the killer.

Once Turner realizes who Hunt really is, and what he’s done, she struggles to prove it. Hunt has the best smooth-talking lawyer in all the land, and he manages to get his client out of every bind. It is at this point that the film gets a little cumbersome, and Turner becomes quite annoying.

After a few more killings and Hunt’s stalking of Turner’s family, Turner starts to fall for her new superior, Detective Nick Mann (Clancy Brown). Hunt is there to watch it all happen which leads him to attack Turner and Mann, landing both of the officers in the hospital.

Like a true rough, stop-at-nothing heroine, Turner escapes from the hospital to find Hunt. This being New York City, the first stop is the subway station where, lo and behold, she finds him. Cue up a shootout showdown, where both Turner and Hunt take bullet wounds that apparently are bad enough to pour out buckets of blood, but not bad enough to keep them from running around the streets. Eventually, justice is restored in a very predictable way.

The script has a lot of potential that goes untapped, like Turner’s parents and their domestic-violence squabbles. I really wish these relationships would have been explored further. You’ll recognize her mother as Louise Fletcher and continually think about One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest the whole time she’s on screen.

One aspect of the film I did enjoy was Hunt’s character. Seeing as I greatly enjoy American Psycho (for reasons unknown to me), I craved more screen time with Hunt. It’s safe to assume Christian Bale took a cue from Silver’s portrayal of Eugene Hunt for his Patrick Bateman. The whole time, you will feel and sense a connection between these two menacing characters born a decade apart.

Blue Steel just didn’t deliver the Bigelow expectations I hold. It had all the right ingredients — they just pulled the trigger too quickly.

Hanna Soltys is a green tea drinker and film critic living in Chicago.

Comments (1)

On August 12, 2010 at 5:17 AM, Rob Lawson wrote...

You forgot to mention that Megan Turner has the most accessible apartment in the New York metropolitan area. Detective Nick Mann gains access somehow and is waiting for Megan one evening, and the flaming nutcase killer gets inside after being wounded by Megan (no drops of blood are left) so he can listen to Megan and Nick make love before shooting Nick and trying to rape Megan.

I mention these details because they are typical of the gaping improbabilities of the script. In their eagerness to make a feminist fable, the filmmakers indulge in more implausibilities than Hitchcock at his most cavalier, without the compensating cinematic mastery that redeemed Hitch’s best work

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