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Sunday, 31 January 2010

Review: Bad Lieutenant: Port Of Call - New Orleans (18) ★★★★
Terence McDonagh is a drug- and gambling-addled detective in post-Katrina New Orleans investigating the killing of five Senegalese immigrants.

What do you get when you add one of the craziest directors in the business with one of the craziest actors in the business? The answer is Bad Lieutenant. 
Werner Herzog and Nicolas Cage team up to deliver a mind-bending movie about the breakdown of a lieutenant in New Orleans shortly after Hurricane Katrina devastated the area.

Now this, as Herzog states, is not a remake of the Abel Ferrara movie, in fact he says he's not even seen the original but there is a fair amount of common ground between the two. A cop dissolving into drugs and gambling while taking advantage of the very people he is meant to be protecting, in fact the line between cop and crime becomes distinctly blurred in Cage's portrayal of Terence McDonagh.

The film starts out showing the aftermath of Katrina with McDonagh and his partner Stevie Pruit (Val Kilmer) discussing whether to save a prisoner held in a jail cell while the water slowly rises. McDonagh decides to save him and in the process causing himself spinal damage which requires him to be on powerful painkillers. It's this that then provokes him to turn to even stronger drugs (anything will really do in McDonagh's drug cabinet) as well as the self pity which pushes him into gambling debt. 
With this increasing burden McDonagh is also trying to solve the killing of five Senegalese immigrants which he does with some gusto, crossing the line many, many times.

Herzog has a certain way of filming and, although a little restrained, this comes out in Bad Lietenant in scenes where you see the action from the viewpoint of various reptiles. You will never look at an iguana in the same way again. The film rolls along nicley, merrily placing McDonagh into various predicaments with the local mafia, bookies, congressman mothers, crime lords and his own partner so much in fact that you sometimes forget who  or what he's supposed to be doing at times.

There are scenes throughout this film which will either have you laughing out loud or gasping depending on your comedic sense of humour. Supporting characters are few and far between with their screentime reduced down to a bare minimum which means that this is the Cage show.

Cage plays McDonagh with the same freedom and outrageousness as he does in Wild At Heart and although this is the crazy cage which were used to, its the good crazy not the god awful that he sometimes lets loose. You can tell throughout that director and actor are gelling superbly, Herzog letting Cage of the reigns and releasing him upon every other actor.

This is a film well worth a look especially if you like Nicolas Cage on a very good day.