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Bad Lieutenant: Port Of Call New Orleans

Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 4 out of 5

SPECIAL FEATURES: Making of featuretter and cast & crew interviews.

ANYONE expecting a mere re-tread of Abel Ferrara’s sleazy, disturbing Harvey Keitel vehicle had best think again.

Werner Herzog’s Bad Lieutenant re-imagining is a completely different kettle of fish and, if anything, more of a dark comedy.

Buoyed by an insane central performance from Nicolas Cage, Port of Call: New Orleans is an outlandish rollercoaster ride through the mean streets of post-Katrina New Orleans that really has to be experienced to be believed.

The film picks up as kindly cop Terence McDonagh (Cage) risks his life to save a drowning man, only to suffer chronic back damage in the process.

Skipping a few months forward, it then follows Terence’s investigation into a gangland slaying as he attempts to come to terms with his own debilitating injury, drug addiction and feelings for a glamourous hooker (Eva Mendes).

Herzog’s film is a rare beast (and re-imagining) in that it attempts to mix his European arthouse sensibilities with elements of mainstream thriller.

It also makes you ponder whether he meant it, or whether this Bad Lieutenant is the happiest of big screen accidents?

No matter the answer, viewers will have a whale of a time figuring that out.

That the film works at all is largely due to Cage’s immense central performance. Just as he shined in Kick-Ass, Cage once again serves a fantastic reminder of the talent that first brought him to the limelight with films like Red Rock West, Leaving Las Vegas and Vampire’s Kiss.

With his back almost permanently arched in pain, and his mind increasingly unravelled as he sinks into a drug induced nightmare, this is Cage at his unpredictable, volatile and madcap best.

Among the many classic Cage moments are his attempts to gain information on a suspect by ‘torturing’ an elderly woman, and his borderline insane reasoning with a drug-dealing psychopath as he gleefully snorts cocaine while setting his rivals up for a fall.

Herzog does include some loose nods to the original (despite claiming not to have seen it), such as an unsettling car park shakedown of two nightclub revellers who Cage uses to get himself off.

But crucially, as low as Cage’s character stoops, he remains strangely sympathetic – something that Keitel’s sleazy cop never managed to pull off.

And Werzog also manages to pull the rug completely out from under you with an ending that you just won’t see coming.

Bad Lieutenant – Port of Call: New Orleans is by no means perfect – some of the flights of fantasy are just too insane and several support players, including Val Kilmer, are under-used – but it is one of the most insanely enjoyable movies you’re likely to see for some time.

It’s worth seeing for the way in which Herzog furthers his reputation as a fiercely experimental filmmaker and for Cage’s towering central presence, which really needs to be seen to be believed!

Certificate: 18
Running time: 122mins
UK DVD & Blu-ray Release: September 27, 2010