Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Blue Steel

Directed by Kathryn Bigelow and written by Bigelow and Eric Red, Blue Steel is the story about a rookie police officer who falls for a man who she thinks might be her stalker. The film is an exploration of a woman who finds herself in a strange love affair while investigating a series of gruesome murders by someone with .44 Magnum. Starring Jamie Lee Curtis, Ron Silver, Clancy Brown, Elizabeth Pena, Kevin Dunn, Richard Jenkins, Philip Bosco, and Louise Fletcher. Blue Steel is a chilling yet mesmerizing film from Kathryn Bigelow.

The film is about a rookie New York police officer who loses her badge following a robbery in which she kills a robber who had a gun pointed at her as the robber’s weapon wasn’t found in the crime scene. During her suspension, she meets a commodities broker where they have a relationship as she is unaware that he has the gun from the robbery and is a psychopath who has been killing people all over the city. When one of the bullet shells features her name, Megan Turner (Jamie Lee Curtis) is re-instated as a detective where she aids in the investigation where she makes some chilling discoveries about her new boyfriend Eugene Hunt (Ron Silver). Particularly as she discovers about his troubled state of mind as he continues to evade the police in this strange cat-and-mouse game.

It’s a film that is definitely a thriller of sorts but with an antagonist who could be mentally ill but also has this strange obsession towards Megan and the robbery she was in as he becomes entranced by the power of killing someone. The film’s screenplay does play into some of the aspects that is expected in a suspense film. Notably in Megan becoming involved in the investigation of these murders as she is baffled by why a bullet shell has her name. Though she is new to her role as a cop, she is still determined to do what is right though her encounter with the robber early in the film showcases not just her inexperience but also how dangerous she could be. She also has to deal with the fact that her father (Philip Bosco) isn’t fond of her being a cop while Megan is often very cagey about why she wanted to be one.

The character of Eugene isn’t a conventional antagonist as he is someone who seems like a nice guy but there’s something about him that is off. Since he witnessed the robbery that Megan was involved in and became entranced by the 44. Magnum. He is this man who is amazed by the power of killing someone as he shoots random people for kicks as he would struggle with his identity which could play to the fact that he is mentally ill. After his encounters with Megan and their relationship suddenly takes on a creepy turn, it becomes clear that Eugene is much smarter and more dangerous than Megan and the police force realize as he is unpredictable in his movements. Even as he would go to places that would play into Megan’s emotions as she is someone with a lot of emotional and mental scars forcing Megan to deal with Eugene at the risk of breaking the law.

Kathryn Bigelow’s direction is truly hypnotic in not just the way she presents late 80s New York City where it is still this unpredictable city but also from the perspective of a police officer and the man she would later deal with. Much of the dramatic compositions that Bigelow would create are very simple with its use of close-ups and medium shots as well as infusing some humor into a few scenes. Yet, she is still emphasizing on its suspense to build up some of the terror that occurs such as the film’s robbery scene where it is all about Megan confronting the robber and the impact that it would have where Eugene would see the gun and later hide it. The usage of montages and dream-like sequences would play into some of the emotional state of Megan as it would also add some suspense into the hideous actions that Eugene would use.

While some of the violence that Bigelow presents are quite gruesome including the scenes of Eugene just killing someone. It’s the intimate moments such as Eugene’s surprise appearance at the home of Megan’s parents that is just uncomfortable to watch. It’s a scene in the third act where Megan is already aware of how dangerous and unpredictable Eugene is as he is there to watch TV with the parents about the killings where Megan knows that one wrong move and everything can go to shit. It’s one of these moments where Bigelow can infuse a sense of psychological wits and play with the rhythms of the suspense where its climax is similar to a Western shootout. Overall, Bigelow crafts a very powerful and rapturous suspense film about a cop going after a psychotic killer.

Cinematographer Amir Mokri does excellent work with the film‘s stylish cinematography with its use of lights and shades for some of the film‘s interior settings while giving some of its exterior scenes a look ranging from grimy to chilling in some of its scenes at night. Editor Lee Percy does brilliant work with the editing with its use of montages, rhythmic cuts, and some slow-motion moments to play up some of the film‘s action and suspense. Production designer Toby Corbett and set decorator Susan Kaufman do nice work with some of the set pieces such as the precinct building that Megan works at to the restaurants and such where she and Eugene go to in the film‘s first half.

Costume designer Richard Shissler does terrific work with the costumes where much of it is pretty casual. Sound editor Richard King does amazing work with the film‘s sound to play into some of the tension that occurs in the suspenseful moments as well as the moments of violence. The film’s music by Brad Fiedel is fantastic for its largely ambient score to play into some of the drama and suspense.

The casting by Risa Bramon Garcia and Billy Hopkins is great as it includes some notable small yet memorable performances from Tom Sizemore as the robber that Megan confronts early in the film and Richard Jenkins as Eugene’s lawyer who tries to stop the investigation. Elizabeth Pena is terrific as Megan’s friend Tracy who tries to assure Megan over her issues as a cop while Kevin Dunn is superb as Megan’s superior who is a hard-ass authority figure but becomes aware that Megan might be right about Eugene. Philip Bosco and Louise Fletcher are excellent as Megan’s parents with Bosco as the disapproving father and Fletcher as the more supportive mother who Megan knows is being abused by her husband which adds to Megan’s emotional issues. Clancy Brown is brilliant as Detective Nick Mann who leads the investigation over the mysterious murders where he would also believe Megan about Eugene as he would later become a target.

Ron Silver is fantastic as Eugene Hunt as this very disturbing individual who has a charming and nice side when he’s with Megan early in the film but is matched by this very dark and unpredictable side of him that allows him to kill people while doing things that he might be unaware of what he’s doing as it’s a very chilling performance from Silver. Finally, there’s Jamie Lee Curtis in an astonishing performance as Megan Turner. Curtis brings a lot of intensity and emotional weight to her role as a rookie cop dealing with her inexperience while realizing that the man she’s dating is a killer as it’s one where Curtis allows herself to be a badass as well as being someone who can navigate this strange cat-and-mouse game.

Blue Steel is a remarkable film from Kathryn Bigelow that features an incredible leading performance from Jamie Lee Curtis. Along with a strong supporting cast and a captivating take on the idea of stalkers and a look into the mind of a killer. The film is definitely one of Bigelow’s finest work to showcase her knack for suspense and action. In the end, Blue Steel is a spectacular film from Kathryn Bigelow.

Kathryn Bigelow Films: The Loveless - Near Dark - Point Break - Strange Days - The Weight of Water - K-19: The Widowmaker - The Hurt Locker - Zero Dark Thirty - The Auteurs #29: Kathryn Bigelow

© thevoid99 2013


TheVern said...

I remember seeing the VHS box art and just discarded it as another cop drama. But your review made me really want to seek this out. Had no idea Bigelow's name was attached to this. Great review

thevoid99 said...

It's definitely a better film than it should be as it's one of Kathryn Bigelow's finest features. I'm going to divulge more into her work next month.