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Blue Steel showcases director Bigelow's writing talents


Written and directed by Kathryn Bigelow.

Starring Jamie Lee Curtis, Ron Silver, Clancy Brown, and Elizabeth Pena.

Opens today at the Cheri Theater.


[gfG]UNS AND SEX AND POWER are inextricably intertwined in Blue Steel, the latest film from writer/director Kathryn Bigelow.

After fatally shooting an armed robber in a supermarket hold-up, rookie police officer Megan Turner (Jamie Lee Curtis) is suspended from the force when the gun cannot be found at the scene and witnesses are unable to corroborate her testimony. She is recalled as a detective "in name only" when bullet jackets with her name inscribed on them are found at a murder scene. Soon after the investigation begins, Turner discovers that the murderer is Eugene Hunt (Ron Silver), a commodities trader with whom she has been having a romantic relationship. Hunt evades the law through loopholes and continues on his murdering rampage until a climactic confrontation with Turner.

Blue Steel is a showcase for Bigelow's considerable writing skill. Turner is a character who goes beyond the level of a female Dirty Harry. She has a well-developed family background which gives obvious motivation to her line, "I've wanted to be a cop since I was a kid." Turner's decision to place her career goals above her personal life is contrasted against her best friend, a traditional homemaker persistent in her attempts to "fix up" Turner with a string of potential suitors.

Bigelow researched psychopathic personalities to create Eugene Hunt, a schizophrenic haunted by voices which direct his actions. Hunt is not a subtle character; his personality disorder makes that an impossibility. Bigelow's explicit characterization and Silver's forceful performance make Hunt the equal of 10 horror film villains.

Bigelow deserves praise for her direction of the two lead actors as well as the strong supporting cast, which includes Clancy Brown (The Adventures of Buckaroo Bonzai) as Turner's partner and Elizabeth Pena (La Bamba) as her best friend.

Blue Steel has a striking physical appearance, which also can be credited to Bigelow. Her formal training as a painter shows through in her strong use of color and contrast between light and dark to enhance the mood of a scene.

Bigelow has unabashedly filled the film with controversial ideas and images. Like other films of its genre, violence is exploited to the fullest. Slow-motion shots of bullets exploding in flesh are intended to provoke strong audience reactions. Bigelow's superimposition of the power of a gun and the power of sexual desire may be beyond the limits of acceptability for some audience members. It is important to recognize that Bigelow does not fall into the trap of exploiting women when presenting this violent imagery.

Blue Steel is two hours of pulse-raising entertainment. Audience members should be forewarned that if they are not open to the experience, they should choose a more appropriate film.