Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans

Sunday, April 25, 2010 3:17 PM By Simon

Synopsis: You all know, okay?
Starring: Nicholas Cage, Eva Mendes, Val Kilmer, Fairuza Balk, Michael Shannon, Brad Dourif, Jennifer Coolidge, Xzibit, Denzel Whitaker
Directed by Werner Herzog

Nicholas Cage, you cocktease.

Seriously, you dick, where do you get off, making shitty movies for years, then turning around and making this beauty? Then go right back to making shit? Fuck you, asshole.

I've seen the original (if you'd like to think of this as a sequel, which I don't, but I got to call it something) Bad Lieutenant. And Abel Ferrara need not worry of any remaking or ripping off. See, on the surface, this is a remake. Same title, same basic premise. But, no, you fucks, absolutely not. It is definitely not a remake.

First off, our bad lieutenant, unlike Harvey Keitel's, has a name. It's Terrence McDonagh. And, while he may not have been a saint, he at least has an excuse for at least a fraction of his transgressions. During Hurricane Katrina, he and his partner (Val Kilmer) go to the police station to empty out a locker, and find a prisoner has not been transferred with the rest. After teasing the guy, who now has flood water up to his neck, and his partner ready to leave him for the fire department to pick up, McDonagh finally dives in to get him. Fastforward six months, he has been promoted to lieutenant, and is addicted to, among other things, prescription drugs, heroin, coke, and gambling. From there, he gets himself into all kinds of shit, that does reflect the troubles of Ferrara's lieutenant. He blackmails women into sexual favors, harrasses various people for drugs, is in debt with bookie, gets in trouble with friends of a guy who beat up his hooker girlfriend Frankie (Eva Mendes). And, like Keitel, he comes across a case that changes the course of things. This is the murder of a family of illegal Senegal immigrants.

Right off, let me tell you: he does not give a shit about this family. It may seem like that, with him relentlessly tracking down the killer. No, he doesn't care. He's trying to prove something. Maybe that he's not completely useless, maybe for the glory and the money that comes with it, maybe something else. I can't confirm anything for you. No, it's more like a minor pain in Cage's ass that nonetheless serves as the backdrop for the story and it's final resolution, such a ridiculous happy ending you have to imagine Herzog pasted it on as a big "fuck you' to Hollywood movies of the sort.

In fact, that's the attitude throughout the movie. When Herzog isn't mocking police procedural, he's boredly disregarding it. What it lacks in the self-serious disintegration of Ferrara's, it more than makes up for in fucking around with such techniques as the Iguana Cam, letting Cage let off into such hamtastic theatrics, it's impossible to take any of his woes seriously, drugs and sex and corruption as far as the eye can see.

This might be the only movie where Eva Mendes doesn't completely annoy me. There was plenty of nice surprises in the cast, like Michael Shannon showing up as the guy Cage goes to for confiscated drugs at the station, and Jennifer Coolidge as his drunk stepmother ("But only on beer", she insists). Xzibit (I feel ridiculous typing that name, I hope you all know) is good as a dealer who Cage partners up with. Kilmer is mostly in the background (and, let me just say, he can no longer play Jim Morrison. Ever.), but when he does talk, it reveals corruption far greater than McDonagh (as I said, McDonagh is pretty corrupt, but he never actually kills anyone, or goes much farther than menacing old women and extorting sex).

The cinematography is gorgeous, of course. And there are nice, inconspicuous touches to go with the flamboyant misbehaviour. For instance, during maybe-notorious scene where Cage cuts off the oxygen of an old woman and puts a gun to her nurse's head, demanding information on an AWOL witness, he enters from behind the open door when they walk in. He's shaving with an electric razor, and it's both weirdly menacing and illustrates how little sleep he's on.

At this point, I'm rambling. To sum up, this movie cares very little for plot, but the writing is good (I forget the scriptwriters, but look them up), the performances are good. It's a good movie, okay. This all may either encourage or discourage you from seeing it, whatever.


CMrok93 said...

Nic Cage, on the top of his game.

April 25, 2010 at 5:19 PM
SugaryCynic said...

I'm honestly still not sure how I feel about this one. It is completely batshit insane with all the hallucinations and lucky crack pipes and all conflicts getting resolved in the span of thirty seconds. Watching it felt like a fever dream

April 25, 2010 at 8:11 PM
Notas Sobre Creación Cultural e Imaginarios Sociales said...

I'm with you on the Mendes thing. She's actually even kinda decent in this one!
And gotta love the lizards.

April 26, 2010 at 7:42 AM
Castor said...

Loved it! It's nice to see something a bit different every now and then and this movie fits the bill. One of the best performance by Nicolas Cage in years.

April 27, 2010 at 9:05 AM