Blue Steel (1989) Film Review by Gareth Rhodes

Blue Steel (1989) Directed by Kathryn Bigelow. With Jamie Lee Curtis, Ron Silver, Clancy Brown, Elizabeth Pena, Richard Jenkins and Louise Fletcher.


Directed and co-written by Kathryn Bigelow, Blue Steel is an edgy cop-thriller starring Jamie Lee Curtis as Megan Turner, a rookie NYPD officer who attracts the attention of a psychopath after he witnesses her using lethal force during an armed robbery.

Visually, Bigelow and cinematographer Amir Mokri create a sense of hostile atmosphere through stylish lighting and compositions, which subtly reinforces the feeling of an NYPD opposed to a female cop in its ranks.

A better film than the 5.6 IMDb user rating would have you believe, Bigelow constructs a gritty, night-time thriller embellished with neon signs and buckets of rain. Jamie Lee Curtis carries the film beautifully, bringing a rare blend of toughness, vulnerability, sexuality and intelligence as she builds her character despite the insistence of the narrative to surge forward into by-the-numbers territory. Indeed, as it unravels, the plot becomes increasingly formulaic (and sometimes silly) as the obligatory chases and face-off’s ensue.

The bunny-boiler of the piece is Ron Silver, a Wall Street trader losing a battle with sanity. Although his part of the plot is less interesting than time spent building Lee Curtis’ character, he does acquit himself well – channelling a little Travis Bickle meets Alex Forrest, but with a suit and tie in-place of a Mohican and an ’80’s perm.

There is a domestic violence subtext, regarding Lee Curtis’ parents, which is never satisfyingly resolved – perhaps another aspect of the script that got sidelined in favour of steaming ahead with the requirements and responsibilities of being a ‘tense Hollywood thriller‘.

While the performances are very good, there remains a feeling that a better film got away, somehow. Perhaps that film doesn’t involve a crazed lunatic and focuses solely on Lee Curtis’ character and her life both in and outside of the NYPD. In the end, Blue Steel is a good film that could have been a great one. 3/5


About garethrhodes

Full-time lover of all things creative.
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11 Responses to Blue Steel (1989) Film Review by Gareth Rhodes

  1. Doesn’t look like something I’d be interested in. Point Break is the only one of Bigelow’s early films that I really like. Nice Review.

  2. filmfunkel says:

    Nice review. This falls between Near Dark and Point Break – that alone elevates my curiosity too high to ignore. Many thanks. : D

    • garethrhodes says:

      Bigelow’s talent is clearly evident, if only she’d been able to overcome the need to stick to the tried-and-tested formula of every standard Hollywood thriller. Worth seeing for Lee Curtis, though. She’s great. Thank you.

  3. Jay says:

    Vintage Jamie Lee, my namesake, I love it!

  4. Rich says:

    Always been a fan of Clancy Brown – remember seeing this when I was a teenager and trying to distinguish him from the Kurgan. On this rare occasion, great to see him play a good guy.

    • garethrhodes says:

      I can see why you’re a fan – he’s a distinguished presence in a lot of films. Like you say, he’s usually the baddie, perhaps most notably in ‘Shawshank’.

      • Rich says:

        Just his voice alone. He crops up in animation a fair bit as do a fair few cult actors. Re-watching Gargoyles at the moment and he’s a guest voice on that.

  5. hello garethrhodes its dennis the vizsla dog hay dada sez yoo no yoo ar in trouble wen clancy brown plays the normal dood!!! ha ha ok bye

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