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Blue Steel
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by Jack Sommersby

"A Semi-Worthy Case of Style Over Substance"
3 stars

Did decent box office back in the day, and I think it's superior to the director's much-heralded "Near Dark" three years prior.

To give you an idea how palpably absurd the New York City cop thriller Blue Steel is, consider these two examples: a supermarket cashier clerk is robbed at gunpoint with a Dirty Harry .44 Magnum, yet after a rookie officer on her first night on patrol, Megan Turner, blows the bad guy away when he turns his gun on her, later at headquarters the clerk can't be sure it was a gun that was in fact pointed at him (what did he think it was, a slingshot?); and when Megan's childhood friend is shot dead by the movie's villain, the wealthy stockbroker Eugene Hunt (who was in the store at the time of the robbery and left the scene with the robber's gun, which has gotten Megan suspended because it wasn't found at the scene), rather than simply lying that she saw his face when he had her from behind while shooting the friend, she admits to his slick defense attorney that she didn't, and Eugene is immediately released from custody and free to wreak even more merciless havoc (he's been going around the city popping people with the gun with Megan's name etched into the shell casings). Co-written and directed by the talented Kathryn Bigelow, Blue Steel is monumentally stupid to the nth degree, especially during the final action sequence where Eugene has been shot and run over by a car yet still keeps coming back like the Energizer Bunny - the other co-writer, Eric Red, seems to have forgotten this is not a sequel to his extraordinary 1986 The Hitcher where Rutger Hauer's dastardly title character also flirted with invincibility. So why, then, is Blue Steel even remotely recommendable? Because Bigelow and the superlative team she's put together, including editor Lee Percy, composer Brad Fiedel, and (especially) cinematographer Amir Mokri, have made the movie an absolute knockout in both visual and aural terms to where "suspension of disbelief" is gladly accepted by an audience hungry for sensory cinematic bliss. Bigelow has filmed Manhattan like it had never been filmed before, with the gorgeous texture and enveloping mood all her own - you don't look at a single frame of it and think of another director's past handiwork. Even the opening-credits sequence, showcasing every nick and cranny of a gun in seductive slow-motion, offers more delectable eye candy than ten movies of its type. Also helping are the first-rate performances by Jamie Lee Curtis, as Megan, and Ron Silver, as Eugene; and there's a standout supporting one by the always-welcome Clancy Brown cast against type as a good guy time this around as Megan's fellow officer. To suitably give yourself in to Blue Steel you need only appreciate the how it's told as opposed to the why. It's marvelously voluptuous stuff in the guilty-pleasure category.

Here's hoping for a stellar Blu-Ray release some day.

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originally posted: 09/11/20 08:01:56
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  16-Mar-1990 (R)



Directed by
  Kathryn Bigelow

Written by
  Kathryn Bigelow
  Eric Red

  Jamie Lee Curtis
  Ron Silver
  Clancy Brown
  Kevin Dunn
  Richard Jenkins

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