USA / 1990
Director: Kathryn Bigelow
Writers: Kathryn Bigelow, Eric Red
Cast: Jamie Lee Curtis, Ron Silver, Clancy Brown, Elizabeth Pena, Louise Fletcher
Kathryn Bigelow’s thriller confirmed her exceptional talent. The screenplay, written by the director and Eric Red, stars Jamie Lee Curtis as Megan Turner, a rookie New York cop. Out on active service, she shoots dead an armed robber but, in the confusion, fails to notice witness Eugene Hunt (Ron Silver) pocket the dead man’s gun.
Turner, suspended, finds herself courted by Hunt, who turns out to be a charming and successful Wall Street broker. However, at the same time he is committing random murders with the gun using bullet casings with her name carved on them. Turner is reinstated so fellow cop Clancy Brown can tail her but when she realises Hunt is the killer, she arrests him. His lawyers get him released and the killings start again, this time closer to home, and it is only a matter a time before the two must face each other for the last time.
“With Blue Steel I wanted to do a ‘woman’s action film’, putting a woman at the centre of a movie predominantly occupied by men,” said Bigelow. “I was interested in creating a person at the centre of an action film who represents an Everyman that both women and men could identify with… I wanted to create a very strong, capable person who just happens to be a woman, using the context of the police genre.”
Bigelow’s concentrated direction elicited from Curtis, too frequently underused or undercast in American cinema, a highly potent performance, notably in the early scenes establishing both the character’s vulnerability and still hidden reserves of strength, while Silver slips away from the archetypal ‘mad serial killer’ role to create a disturbingly normal sociopath.