Bad Lieutenant – Movie Review
Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans
Edward R. Pressman Film/Nu Image Entertainment
Bad being in the title should have been my first warning. This film stars Nicholas Cage as a strung-out crack addicted police lieutenant who would smoke your lawn clippings and inject your contact lens solution if left alone in your house for 5 minutes who’s abuses of his badge are only exceeded by his partner’s nihilistic world view and glib racism. Add to this a hefty dose of art-house weird and you start to get the picture. The film consists basically of watching Nicolas Cage bumbling around being irritable, obsessively asking any passerby if they have some blow while sexually imposing himself on women far more attractive than himself. It gave me the same sense of uneasiness that you might feel by being forced to watch your incontinent grandfather rent a hooker and then fondle her while shouting about how much he must remind her of her father. But then again this is Herzog, so maybe he was going for that.
Nicolas Cage has the ability to ruin any movie he is in and he was no less terrible in this. His accent kept changing from classic Cage to old-timey radio announcer. Keep in mind this takes place in new Orleans. When a character approaches him about his bat-shit insane actions he counters by rattling off some petty excuse or ham-fisted distraction that would be more fitting of a 5 year old than a fully grown police lieutenant. Despite having an absurd star-list with everyone from Val Kilmer to Xhibit the movie manages to be a complete train-wreck. A rising talent to look out for is an iguana that gets more screen time than some of the other supporting characters combined. Interspersed throughout the film are random shots of reptiles recorded with what seems to be a cell phone camera. Unfortunately, the movie is so bad these gator-vision sequences are welcomed as a happy reprieve from the crap torrent that is this film.
I love Herzog but seriously, what the fuck? Some parts of the film seemed like they weren’t even written in proper English. I found myself trying to translate the film into German sensibilities to somehow enjoy it, and while I found that task to be impossible it enabled Nicolas Cage’s antics and ranting to help me better realize the blind pandering to authority and the level of anger and insecurity Germany must have felt as a nation to cause Hitler and the Holocaust to happen. That’s right, the movie is Hitler bad. They need to chill out.
Adding to the tragedy is that this was based on a different Bad Lieutenant film starring Harvey Keitel, which it has pissed all over the name of. When the director of the original, Abel Ferrara, heard news that his movie was getting remade he was furious and baffled, “Where do these people come off? I don’t get it, man, I really don’t. The woman who wrote the original was a genius but, believe me, this guy who’s writing the new one is an idiot. I’ve read his stuff.” adding that “It felt terrible” and “like being robbed”, and scorned Nicolas cage for having the audacity to do Harvey’s role, announcing he believed everyone involved in the remake “Should all die in Hell”. Ferrara then followed up by enthusiastically giving the finger on camera to the new movie’s entire crew. I’m not kidding.
So heed my advice, this is one Bad Lieutenant you want to steer clear from.
-By Laura Gaddy