Published Sep 22, 2009In the long and loopy careers of Hollywood star Nicolas Cage and legendary German director Werner Herzog, neither has attempted something quite this bonkers. Neither a sequel nor remake of Abel Ferrera's 1992 film Bad Lieutenant, Herzog uses only the base character, Terrence McDonagh, a corrupt, amoral, drug addicted, newly promoted lieutenant attempting to solve a triple homicide while balancing his various addictions, prostitute girlfriend (Eva Mendes) and increasing gambling debts.
Where Harvey Keitel originally brought sadness and intensity to his Bad Lieutenant's grim story of a raped nun, Cage and Herzog make a formidable break for black humour, giving Cage ample opportunity to run as entertainingly bonkers as possible while indulging Herzog's penchant for ultra-realist settings (this time, post-Hurricane Katrina New Orleans) and animal showcases (there are a number of still inexplicable iguana scenes).
This is a perfect comeback role for Cage; while his National Treasure films have him living comfortably in his castle (literally), this is the first role since Wild at Heart that allows him to chew scenes for maximum effect all the way through. Like its name-only predecessor, Bad Lieutenant is not for the easily offended; one must be able to see the humour in scenes of Cage shaking down club couples for drugs, raping women while smoking crack, pulling out an elderly woman's air tube and generally acting as misanthropic as possible for two hours.
Despite the over-the-top nature of the film, it already seems destined for misunderstanding; leaving the screening, frequent mutters of disappointment over the comic nature were heard. So bear this in mind when investigating Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans. Even the presence of Val Kilmer as McDonagh's partner is funny and disturbing, with his smarmy paunch competing with Cage's apocalyptic rage for screen domination.
Tasteful it may not be but at least you don't have to see Harvey Keitel naked. (VVS)