13 May 2010

Bad Lieutenant - Port of Call New Orleans.

When I first heard that the original Abel Ferrara/Harvey Keitel bad cop sleaze-fest Bad Lieutenant was getting remade, or at least retold/re-imagined or whatever they're calling it, I wondered why? Despite it's straight to video esque title of The Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans there's a lot going for it. Add in the fact this is helmed by the crazy genius Werner Herzog (Aguirre, Rescue Dawn) and starring a refreshed alternative Nicolas Cage - who in his more familiar action man guise, occasionally (and probably fairly) gets a bit of a hard time. Though, I'm thinking of Raising Arizona, Bringing Out the Dead and Wild at Heart here, rather than the bubble gum fodder of Con Air, The Wicker Man (remake) and erm, National Treasure, there's no doubt when more than the paycheck matters, he's a talented actor who's given us some wacky and memorable roles. This is certainly one of them.
With a decent support cast including Jim Morrison/Batman Val Kilmer, Pimp My Rides 'Xzibit' and Eva Mendes who's so pretty she could be painted on the side of a fighter plane, this was a rather unexpected and highly enjoyable film, one of the best this year so far, in fact.
So to the film, Cage is on terrific and crazy form as Lt. Terence McDonagh. Set in New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina - we're first introduced to McDonagh doing the right thing by opting to ignore his partner Stevie's (Kilmer) advice and decides not to leave a prisoner caged and drowning in a deserted jail cell, but rescues him, though in doing so he badly injures his back. Fast forward six months and he has earned a promotion for his efforts but is also left a hunched dishevelled, addicted mess. Addicted to painkillers and illegal substances, he snorts his way through the day whilst on duty and at crime scenes all the time building up a rather large gambling tab, at night he unwinds with more drugs and his own other vice his escort girlfriend (Mendes)
It seems as he slips further into the mire there is no way back, but often things work out. Whilst not so focused he's charged with task of trying to solve the messy case of the killing of five Senegalese immigrants. At one point he even teams up with chief suspect Big Fate (Xzibit) in a dodgy scheming deal to clear his own debts, and maybe, actually doing his job in the process.
The film is a strange one, at times a touch baffling, nasty even, and at others it's hilarious. This is Cage's film, this is Nicolas 'un-caged' and it's his best work in years, up there with his 'Sailor Ripley' and 'H.I. McDunnough' for Lynch and the brothers' Coen respectively. Yet still owes to the direction of Werner Herzog who's own imitable touches add to the circus on show, in particular the hallucinatory Iguanas! Granted it might be a touch disjointed on the whole, but what matters is it's just a highly enjoyable ride from start to finish and one of the good 'uns for this year so far.

Nicolas Cage - Selected Filmography.

1 comment:

  1. the iguana scenes are genius. 'shoot him again, his souls still dancing!'