Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans

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Epinions Product Rating: Very Good
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Cult Movie Magic Herzog, Cage, Bad Lieutenant.; 'Nuff said.

Aug 10, 2010 (Updated Aug 10, 2010)
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:Cages mostly impressive performance

Cons:Val Kilmer under-used, lots of cliches

The Bottom Line: Cage's performance, odd-ball touches by director Herzog might make this one worth watching.

Plot Details: This opinion reveals minor details about the movie's plot.

"Shoot him again, . . .his soul's still dancin'"

Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans is sordid, sleazy, implausible, full of modern clichés, has bad scenes that don't work as intended, and Nicholas Cage who's laughably awful in a few scenes, but weirdly wonderful in others.    

Any movie bearing the same name as Abel Ferrara's darker than night cult classic Bad Lieutenant starring Harvey Keitel has got to be a train wreck right?

Ah but hearing the metal against metal grind and the sparks fly off the track and just watching it all happen before your eyes is some kind of guilty pleasure wonderful. 

Actually after about 25 minutes, I originally turned it off, thinking the somewhat reliable critics who had good things to say about this one were breathing in contaminated fumes.  For instance how can you put Val Kilmer in a movie (particularly after Kiss Kiss Bang Bang) and only use him in a couple of scenes?

I eventually watched the rest of the film and at several points, still wasn't convinced it was worth watching.  That changed right after this incredible shot that involved an alligator that was run over on the road which pulls back to reveal a messy accident.  Okay that's a great shot in a real misfire of a movie, and I'll watch a little longer.

Then there's the scene where we see a pair of iguana on a coffee table where Nicholas Cage, Val Kilmer and other officers are waiting to move in on a suspect's house.   Cage can't stop staring at the Iguana and eventually asks Val Kilmer how come there's two Iguana on the coffee table?  Kilmer says there's no Iguana on the coffee table and then we get a series of bizarre shots involving the Iguana and Cage staring at them.

At that point, the movie hooked me and start reeling me in.   Sure there's scenes that don't work very well and others that are not very different variations of scenes we've seen in a whole lot of movies from the past decade, but then there's little touches and moments that make this one different, subversive and worth watching.

"Whatever I take is prescription. Except for the heroin."

Nicholas Cage is an arrogant cop in the city of New Orleans.  He's working around the time of Hurricane Katrina and realizes there's a prisoner who's still in lock-up and might drown in his cell.  He jumps into snake infested dirty water to help the prisoner and in the process hurts his back to the point he has to take pain-killers which he quickly becomes addicted to.   He needs more meds then he's supposed to take to alleviate the pain and that quickly turns him in a very corrupt drug addicted cop.

You've seen every bit of this before on television cop shows and in many movies.  In a few scenes, Nicholas Cage's acting is bad.  He's like a whining stiff backed hunchback.
Stick with it though because as you get past the 30 minute mark, you realized this one's a subversive satire on the whole bad cop, crime film genre.  Director Herzog doesn't care much about the story, he's interested in Cage's performances and adding a little bit of spicy texture.    It's dark, twisted, at times clever and laugh out loud funny.    There are still overly familiar cheesy moments, but now you realize they aren't to be taken as serious.

Still, you can't get too excited about a movie that wastes Val Kilmer and includes some bad scenes right?

Xzibit is every bit the actor, Ludacris, P. Diddy and Mos Def are in his portray of Big Fate a bad guy that the bad Lieutenant winds up in business with.  You will not recognize her, but Jennifer Coolidge does a wonderful turn as the alcoholic stepmother.  Eva Mendez plays the drug addicted prostitute well though she's made up to look too high fashion slick. Brad Dourif does a solid job playing a bookie. The script by television veteran William Finkelstein allows him to write several cop scenes without worrying about the television censors.  Some of this is overly familiar, but some scenes have an ingrained gallows humor element to them that keeps it feeling more real than you'd expect.   The music is by Mark Isham and mostly his score compliments the production avoiding any semblance of tackiness while embracing some of the musical history of New Orleans.

The look of the film and some of the locations are also impressive.  

Nicholas Cage has a couple of  scenes where his acting isn't convincing (and I mean at all), but then he keeps going with his performance, first into places you've seen him do this sort of thing before (Leaving Las Vegas) and then beyond into some other post David Lynch (Wild at Heart) place that demonstrates without doubt how fearless an actor he can be when he wants to be.

The odd-ball touches, the dark sense of humor and Cage's performance are why you want to watch this movie. The way Herzog and his editors integrate Cage's hallucinations is why I love the movies.  At times they get it so right, I can overlook the serious flaws this film has. If that doesn't interest you  then skip this one-there's nothing for you to see here at all.


BAD LIEUTENANT Port of Call New Orleans  is a flawed but subversive corrupt cop crime movie that has few similarities to the Harvey Keitel/ Abel Ferrara  1993 cult classic.  Cage's performance as a dirty immoral cop in post-Katrina New Orleans is most of the show with director Werner Herzog contributing some just-right odd-ball touches and a few truly brilliant shots . 

I'm not jumping on the bandwagon and pretending this one doesn't have some serious flaws and some very bad scenes but I'm going to rate it  3 and a half stars, bumping it to 4.    

If you're a Herzog/Cage or odd cult movie lover this is a must see; everyone else should approach this one with some caution and trepidation. Lots of violence, bad language, and drug use, but no nudity.

"You don't have a lucky crack pipe?"

Recommend this product? Yes

Viewing Format: DVD
Video Occasion: Fit for Friday Evening

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