A taut, relentless thriller that hums with an electric current of outrage. Director and cowriter Kathryn Bigelow makes the most of her hook – the use of a female star (Jamie Lee Curtis) in a tough action pic – by stressing the character’s vulnerability in remarkable early scenes.
As rookie cop Megan Turner, Curtis is hit with doubts and resistance from all corners, then suspended after she kills an armed robber (Tom Sizemore) her first night out and no gun is found at the scene. The psycho bystander who picked the gun up (Ron Silver) starts commiting serial murders with bullets he’s carved her name onto, and Curtis, under deep suspicion, gets dragged back onto the force to help find him.
Curtis gives an eerily effective performance as Turner, getting across in palpable waves her shaky determination and inner steeliness.
Script is at its weakest where the villain (Silver) is concerned – his characterization as a schizophrenic nutso with violent religious hallucinations is a writeoff. Even so, pic lacks nothing for menace and suspense, and has a frightening, explosively violent second half.