Steel is still a fairly radical film working within the genre confines, and it's almost impossible not to draw (reductive?) parallels between Curtis' beleaguered cop and Bigelow's status as Queen of Action. That shouldn't be a bad thing - this has tons of insight into the way empowered women are demonised and fetishised. The way the machinations gradually become fever dream-esque is hard to square w/ smart politics
tense, but not as tense as "the hurt locker." ridiculous, but not as ridiculous as "point break." probably best suited to kathryn bigelow completists. some well orchestrated action sequences, but wrapped around a logic-defying storyline better suited to a stallone movie.
As a story, it's daft(That scene where Jamie Lee arrests dad, wth?), but as a glossy fever dream, it has a sort of logic--Bigelow plays with performance and expectations from the start--lighting her cop and crook like idols and playing up the violence in an early grocery robbery scene for the audience, only to cut the feet out from under her cop, who expects to be a hero and winds up incompentent, in the next scene
Even though "Near Dark" and "Point Break" are two of my favorite movies of all time, I avoided seeing the movie Bigelow made between them because, well, the trailer made it look like a predictable, gender-flipped take on "Sea of Love." And, more or less, that's what it is. The screenplay really stretches credibility at times but, as with any action picture she does, Bigelow directs the hell out of it.
I love what it could have been, but the entire Eugene Hunt contrivance is utterly unnecessary. Rookie lady cop empowered by a gun should have supplied enough gender politics fodder to fill the entire film on its own. Think gender-flipped line from "Generation Kill": "...if you keep talking to your weapon like it's trim, everybody's gonna know you're a total psycho."