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500 Five-Star: Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans (2009)

October 23, 2011


I really dislike Nicholas Cage.  He can be excellent, but most of the time, he makes atrocious choices and puts in atrocious performances to match.  Bad Lieutenant is no doubt one of the better performances of his career, but no matter how good he is, I can’t forgive him for all the dross he has given to the film world.  If anything, it makes him even more irritating, because all you’re left with is the impression that 80% of the time, he prefers to be lazy and just pick up a pay cheque.  He’s lucky enough to have been born with a serious talent, and rather than use this talent to inspire people, he makes films like Bangkok Dangerous, The Wicker Man and National Treasure and does so on an all too regular basis.  Once in a while is fair enough…three times a year is taking the piss.

I realise none of the above really has much to do with Bad Lieutenant, but I just couldn’t let the opportunity for a Cage rant pass.  So, what of the film?  Well, it was alright.  Cage really is very, very good in it, which is lucky as the film revolves around him entirely.  Playing a drug-addled police officer with chronic back pain, he’s a constant presence, and he makes the most of it.  Funny, depressed, psychotic at times, it’s one of his more memorable roles.  Sadly, everything around him doesn’t quite meet his standard.  Werner Herzog is one of the world’s more interesting directors, and you can see what he was going for.  This isn’t really a cop thriller, it’s basically Herzog letting Cage loose and seeing what happens.  Most of the storyline is-deliberately-ridiculous, cliche-filled nonsense, and this ridiculousness is all a bit hit-or-miss.  Most of it is simply too subtle, making Bad Lieutenant pretty much exactly like the generic, lazy cop films it is trying to satirise.  There are moments of brilliance (the hilarious conclusion, or the all-too-few touches of Herzog craziness), but the film ultimately lives on Cage’s performance, when it could have been so much more than that.



Empire got this one badly wrong.  It’s a good film, but it is nowhere near a great one.



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