Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call: New Orleans' is a crime drama that released in 2009 to critical acclaim. It's a loose remake of 'Bad Lieutenant' that released in 1992 and starred Harvey Keitel. Unfortunately the movie struggled to get a wide release in the cinemas due to distributors not being interested for some reason. The movie ended up getting a limited release, which sadly resulted in poor box-office returns.
The movie centres around the life of a corrupt Police Lieutenant (Bad Lieutenant) Terrence McDonagh (Nicolas Cage) who is also a drug addict. The movie shows how he starts to get into trouble as he utilizes untoward methods whilst investigating a murder incident and at the same time struggles with his drug addiction.
Now, where do I start on this surprise gem of a movie, it's basically compulsive viewing. Before watching this, I had my doubts due to Cage's not so great previous efforts combined with his below par performances and the trailer of the movie, which didn't generate any kind of excitement. I guess my low expectations ended up making the movie more than likeable. The movie starts off in a dark setting as we get a taste of McDonagh's erratic behaviour and his corrupt world. It then progresses with a series of disjointed but unpredictable events, which don't make sense at the time as to what direction the movies heading in. During these events we witness a successful combination of humor, a love story, emotional drama and corruption. The movie then has a climax, which ties up all loose ends making sense of all the events in the movie. This is done in about sixty seconds, which I thought was short but sweet. The end is simply satisfying.
The movie works brilliantly as you don't know exactly what to expect and look forward to every scene. I was guessing all the way through as to how the movie was going to end and which characters were going to die or survive, exciting isn't it. In one word, the movie was GRIPPING. It mainly contains effective drama with a hint of action.
The flaws are the slow pace at times and the series of erratic events, which may test the patience of the audience. But as I said, the mess makes sense in the end. Just be patient and you'll be rewarded. Another flaw is a couple of scenes where the viewer is shown what McDonagh is experiencing mentally as a result of his drug use, it just got a bit weird for me.
The movie is a Nicolas Cage show from beginning to end as he's nearly in all the scenes. Cage performs superbly after a long time, this is an award winning performance. His charisma and bursts of energy sets the screen on fire. His portrayal of a corrupt, emotionally troubled, drug addict Officer with a sense of humor and a conscience is GREAT. Throughout the movie, you can't make your mind up on Cage's character, do you like him or hate him, is a good guy or a bad guy. This uncertainty is only caused by Cage's bravura performance. Without him the movie is pointless. For me, Cage is an anti-hero with attitude.
Eva Mendes (Frankie Donnenfeld) who plays the role of Cages love interest is first rate. Xzibit (Big Fate) is competent as a gang leader. Val Kilmer (Stevie Pruit) who plays McDonagh's partner doesn't get much screen time, when he does, the performance is poor. The rest of the cast perform well.
The direction provided by Werner Herzog is top notch. He manages to extract a flawless performance from Cage and keeps the audience interested. There are a few scenes in the movie that have been executed with finesse. Hope to see Herzog and Cage team up again, it'll be good for cinema.
The background music score by Mark Isham perfectly compliments the mood of the movie.
The movie succeeds due to a tight script, engrossing drama and an in-form Cage. However, it's one of those features, which you'll either love or hate.
'Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call: New Orleans' is one helluva Cage show.