Hey! A surprise even for me. Never heard of it before it popped up on Amazon Prime Video. It’s Blue Steel, from 1990 starring Jamie Lee Curtis as newly-minted NYPD cop Megan Turner. Details are from Wikipedia.
This was co-produced by Oliver Stone and directed by Kathryn Bigelow, listed as co-writer. We have much to thank for the stunning visuals and action, but I resisted the temptation to put up a full gallery of imagery. It’s an interesting plot, but I am only going to skim it and give you an idea of how twisted it is.
The opening follows the action of a police raid on an apartment. Officers approach a door in a darkened corridor with weapons drawn. They kick in the door, and in charges Turner. She is confronted by a desperado who grabs up his female companion, creating a hostage situation. Turner threatens without flinching, causing the gunman to drop his sidekick and turn his attention toward her. She wastes him, and as he falls to the floor, so does the chickadee. While Turner focuses on the the man, the woman whips out a weapon and fires. It’s all over. It was a police academy training exercise, and Turner has learned a valuable lesson. Keep your focus at all times.
Graduation follows, and Turner pauses to experience a dysfunctional home life. Her mother is a middle-aged punching bag for her abusive husband, who hates cops. They did not attend the graduation.
Comes the day of Turner’s first active duty assignment, and she and her partner cruise the streets of Manhattan, looking for trouble. The partner opts for a pee break, and they stop into a quick mart. While her partner relieves himself, Turner practices being observant. She observes that at the supermarket across the street a man with a .44 magnum is got the clerk at the till cowered. Seeing no sign of her partner finishing up in the back, she crosses the street, and sneaks in the back way. Stalking among the shelves, she finally gets a view of the action and levels her weapon.
The guy with the .44 is having none of this shit, and he is certainly not taking any off a cunt rookie cop. He points the .44 at Turner, who empties six chambers into his unfortunate body, which crashes through the glass and onto the sidewalk.
All patrons have been on the floor up to now, one being Wall Street commodities broker Eugene Hunt (Ron Silver). While Turner focuses on the damage, Hunt focuses on the .44 dropped by the dead man. He reaches his hand over and pulls it into this possession. That creates a problem for Turner.
Back at the station house they have a rookie cop who has killed a man an hour or so into her first time on the street, and there is no gun. Hunt has slipped away with it, and Turner is in deep trouble. They relieve her of her badge and her gun and send her off duty indefinitely.
Meanwhile, Hunt takes the weapon home, extracts the cartridges, and carves “Megan Turner” onto each before reloading. Then he plays Matt Dillon before a mirror and ultimately stalks the streets with the .44 under his jacket. On a rainy night in Manhattan he literally bumps into a middle aged white man, and both fall to the sidewalk in the rain. The weapon clatters to the concrete. Hunt picks it up and fires one shot into the unfortunate bumpee. A serial killing rampage is under way.
It quickly becomes apparent that Hunt, besides being a Wall Street commodities trader, is a raving psychopath. He works out at the gym and hears voices in his head telling him to do things.
Turner, looking for a night on the town, steps out onto the sidewalk to hail a cab in the rain. But Hunt is there, and he has a cab. He invites Turner along. He takes her to dinner. He later takes her on a helicopter rider to view Manhattan by night.
Meanwhile the police have come across an empty cartridge casing with Turner’s name carved on it. They haul her in for questioning. Since the only other Megan Turner in New York City is an octogenarian living in retirement, the cops figure they have the correct Megan Turner. They decide to bring Turner back onto the force as a detective and use her as bait to catch the person with the hot .44. They assign sexually appealing Nick Mann (Clancy Brown) to be her second skin.
Things develop. When Turner and Hunt return to her apartment from a date, she invites him up. He suggests a later time. Good thing, because when Turner opens her apartment door, Mann is there waiting. He chides her for not having much to eat, forcing him to dine on tuna salad.
For reasons I am unable to fathom, the police never connect Hunt with the case, and on a subsequent encounter with him, he reveals to Turner he first saw her when she blew away the perp at the supermarket. She guesses he is the person they are looking for, but since the police didn’t scoop him up at the scene, there is no evidence he is the killer. He engages heavy legal counsel, and under threats of sever legal action, the police are forced to let him roam.
Disaster follows. As Turner and her chum Tracy (Elizabeth Peña) go out together, Hunt falls silently in behind. He throws an arm around Turner’s neck and shoots Tracy. Then he conks Turner on the head and departs. Since she is unable to verify it was Hunt, the police are again forced to let him walk.
We see Hunt burying the weapon in a park somewhere, and we see Mann and Turner stalking him, waiting for him to lead them to the gun. They ultimately determine he must have cached the gun, and they stake out the place. When they see somebody searching with a flashlight, Turner handcuffs Mann to the steering wheel of the car and pursues Hunt on a personal quest for vengeance. But Hunt has outsmarted them, and Turner discovers the person with the light is an old shopping cart woman. Meanwhile Hunt ambushes Mann in the car and takes his weapon, preparing to shoot him. But Turner shows up and puts one through the fleshy part of his arm. He again escapes, but now the police put on a full court press to locate him.
While the police sweat to resolve the matter, Mann and Turner retire to her place to get in some sack time. But Hunt is already there, hiding out in a back room. While Turner is showering off, Hunt muffles the .44 with a towel and shoots Mann, who recovers eventually. But Turner is placed under police guard while Hunt is on the loose.
Fire burning her belly, Turner resolves to personally close with the enemy. She decoys the cop guarding her and slugs him, stealing his uniform and his weapon. She stalks the streets, waiting for Hunt to find her.
He does, and there ensues a running gun battle. Turner catches a slug and puts a tourniquet around her arm, continuing the battle with her good arm. After putting another round into Hunt, snatching up a civilian car and ramming him, she exchanges shots until she empties all six chambers. Hunt stalks her while she reloads, and he wastes his last round hitting the civilian’s car. Now Hunt is defenseless, but there is no “kings ex” in this game. Turner must have her retribution, and the last thing Hunt sees in his life is her starring at him over the sights of the purloined pistol. Classic Jamie Lee Curtis.
A bunch wrong with this plot. Point by point:
Turner has no evidence the robber had a weapon. Really? The store clerk was so frightened he could not recall whether the man had a pistol or a knife. Who believes that bit of nonsense? Also, there were multiple customers lying on the floor besides the commodities trader. Why were they lying on the floor if there was no gun. Even if they did not see the gun, they must have known there was a gun, else they would have skedaddled.
Now Hunt shoots a man on the street in Manhattan. To be sure, it’s raining, but even in the rain people are going to notice a .44 magnum going off, and this is not going to pass unnoticed. The police find a .44 casing with Turner’s name carved into it. Where? At the crime scene? It’s a revolver. The shooter had to eject the casing and toss it nearby. We are left to our imaginations to figure this is what must have happened.
Hunt encounters Turner hailing a cab in the rain. No rain, and she would not have accepted his offer of a ride. Too many things are falling into place for this plot to be believable.
They give Turner a pretend detective’s badge. That is not explained. She is obviously a rookie. Why pretend she’s a seasoned detective?
Mentioned before; if the police are going to be on Turner like paint, how come they miss so much about Hunt? How come they don’t notice Hunt sneaking into her apartment?
Toward the end, after it is determined Hunt is the killer, Turner visits her parents. There has been trouble. Her father has been beating her mother. She arrests her father, cuffs him, and starts toward the station house in her car. Then she reconsiders, he promises to stop this bad behavior, and they both go back to the family home. Hunt is there, posing as a friend of Turner’s. It’s touchy situation. Turner is concerned Hunt will pull something deadly if she doesn’t get him out of the house. She does, and reports this to the police. But wait! If Turner didn’t discover her father’s assault on her mother, she would never have left with him in the car. If she had taken him to the station, then Hunt would possibly have come and gone before she got back. The plot doesn’t work unless a string of special circumstances convene. This makes for an improbable plot.
Turner decides to engage in a vendetta, so she slugs a copy. I mean, she cold-cocks him with her fist, and he does not come around until after she has undressed him and left with his uniform and his weapon. Do not, I say, do not mess with this woman.
The police are out in force, scouring the borough for Hunt. The can’t find him. But Turner knows how to find him. Just put on a cop uniform and walk down the street like Gary Cooper with her six gun on her hip. Hunt is right there on the spot.
Turner and Hunt engage in a gun battle for several minutes in downtown Manhattan, and the scene is not swarming with cops until all the smoke has cleared? I don’t believe it either.
Jamie Lee Curtis is, of course, daughter of Janet Leigh and Tony Curtis. Her face tended toward androgynous, but there was a body what would not quit. Guys went to her movies on the chance of seeing her naked, often the case. My favorite JLC movie is True Lies with Arnold. I have it. I will do a review.