Film

Jamie Lee Curtis is back for 'Halloween', so how about a 'Blue Steel' sequel?

With the recent 'Halloween' remake, Curtis got the chance to revisit Laurie Strode, one of her defining characters. It made me curious about Megan: where would the one-time 'Blue Steel' rookie find herself in 2018?

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The first day of any new job can be tough but in Blue Steel (1990), newly-qualified NYC beat cop Megan Turner (Jamie Lee Curtis) has a doozy. Her attempt to foil an armed robbery at a supermarket ends with her emptying six rounds into the stick-up artist (Tom Sizemore in a scuzzy cameo). But once the gun smoke has cleared, there is no sign of the suspect’s weapon. Did she just blow away an unarmed man?

In time-honoured cop movie tradition, Megan is relieved of her badge and her sidearm, unaware that well-heeled stockbroker Eugene (Ron Silver), a seemingly terrified bystander, has squirrelled away the robber’s .44 Magnum and is now nursing an obsession with her.

Eugene seems to view her life and career as merely more commodities he can manipulate at will.

The sleek, almost reptilian Eugene subjects Megan to a two-pronged campaign of seduction and furtive harassment, wooing her with meals in fancy restaurants while also gunning down innocents and leaving behind bullet casings with her name carved into them. Having amassed his fortune buying and selling gold futures, Eugene seems to view her life and career as merely more commodities he can manipulate at will.

Predating the publication of American Pyscho by a year, he is a monstrous proto-Patrick Bateman: affluent but alienated, a moral vacuum in luxury threads. When Megan detects the malevolence within Eugene, her suspicions are dismissed and ridiculed by testy male superiors in scenes that, viewed in the era of #MeToo, have added resonance, and menace.

For co-writer and director Kathryn Bigelow – who would later win an Oscar for Zero Dark Thirty, another story centred on a woman navigating a predominantly man’s world – Blue Steel was an opportunity to demonstrate she could be as hard-boiled as any male director, orchestrating tense stand-offs and deafening, stylised gun blasts against a glinting, hard-edged backdrop of nocturnal New York streets. Whether it was the desired effect or not, Blue Steel left both critics and audiences a little queasy.

It may have been pitched as a cat-and-mouse crime thriller but the experience of watching it feels closer to a horror movie, with Megan pitted against a callous killer with seemingly supernatural abilities (the sour joke here is that Eugene’s powers of avoiding detection boil down to wealth, reputation and a motormouth lawyer).

Long before it acquired an unexpected second life as a Zoolander catchphrase, Blue Steel was a disreputable VHS store staple, its semi-lurid cover featuring a desaturated portrait of Curtis practically nuzzling her gun. These days, would-be renters can find it on YouTube (although it is free to stream for Outlander superfans who have paid for Amazon’s StarzPlay channel) and almost three decades on, it still packs a punch. With the recent Halloween, Curtis got the chance to revisit Laurie Strode, one of her defining characters, and explicitly show how an encounter with a violent killer reshaped the rest of her life. It made me curious about Megan: where would the one-time rookie find herself in 2018? Would she now be a hard-bitten but fair-minded police captain mentoring a new generation of raw recruits? Or did she hang up her holster forever? The shellshocked ending of the original suggests it could have gone either way.

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