Plot Details: This opinion reveals minor details about the movie's plot.
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I once read that if you are making a movie and need an actor who can reliably portray bats--t crazy, you need to go with either Nicolas Cage or Willem Defoe. For Bad Lieutenant - Port of Call New Orleans, director Werner Herzog went with Nicolas Cage. The results are disturbing.
The movie begins in New Orleans the day after Hurricane Katrina, and we see two detectives going through a flooded police station. Nicolas Cage and Val Kilmer are the detectives. When they realize that a prisoner is still being held in a cell and will surely drown if not removed, Cage jumps down into the water to help the guy. In doing so, he severely injures his back and is told that he's going to spend the rest of his life on painkillers in order to deal with it.
What happens next is a shocking series of events in which Nicolas Cage becomes the bad lieutenant. He's working a quadruple homicide that puts him in the path of some big-time drug dealers, and pretty soon he turns his prescription medication drug addiction into a full blown narcotics problem. When he's not making arrests for the murder case, he's stealing drugs from dealers and pitting people against each other in deadly ways. Throughout his downward spiral, internal affairs is on his case and his prostitute girlfriend (Eva Mendes) suddenly gets herself into trouble even bigger than his problems.
This is a rough movie. Although it's about a murder investigation set in New Orleans, the real core of the story is a character study into what can happen to a good man when he gets too caught up in bad dealings with bad people. When he starts making new problems to solve old ones, his list of enemies builds up quickly. Don't go into this expecting any big shoot-outs or action sequences, but instead look for an intense portrayal of drug addiction and the affect it can have on people and their actions. Imagine if Dirty Harry smoked crack, and that's how Cage played this part.
I thought this was absolutely one of the best performances Cage has ever committed to film, and it's a shame that it happened to be in a movie that was mostly ignored. I'm guessing the subject matter of this movie was deemed too harsh for mass audiences, although I've seen similar stuff in Quentin Tarantino movies. There was one scene in a nursing home where Cage threatens two old ladies for withholding information, and it sort of reminded me of the famous scene in Reservoir Dogs where Michael Madsen tortures the cop.
Harvey Keitel made a movie back in the early 90's called Bad Lieutenant, but this movie is hardly a remake of it. Some of the themes are basically the same, but that's about it. The screenplay was written by William Finkelstein, and most of his writing credit is from television shows like NYPD Blue and L.A. Law. I am not too familiar with director Werner Herzog's work, but he pulled no punches with this movie and I understand he has a knack for tackling tough subjects.
Bad Lieutenant - Port of Call New Orleans is not for the squeamish, so be warned. It's still worth seeing just for Nicolas Cage's crazy over-the-top performance. I wish he'd quit doing bad action movies and get back to this kind of stuff because he plays one heck of a madman. His role in Kick-A-s-s is pretty awesome, too.
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Video Occasion: Fit for Friday Evening
Suitability For Children: Not suitable for Children of any age