“Bad Lieutenant: Port Of Call New Orleans” is one of the oddest and most hypnotic movies I have seen this year. Nicolas Cage, when he is not doing a lame “National Treasure” movie, takes on risky roles like this and is almost always successful. Nobody can play edgy, strung out, spiralling out of control creep like Cage can.
Now upon first glance, people are going to think that this is a sequel or a remake of “Bad Lieutenant”, the 1993 movie starring Harvey Keitel. I’m not sure why this movie has such a bad title but do not be dismayed. The title and the immoral main character are the only two things these two films have in common. This one is directed by Werner Herzog who surrounds his main character with a group of colourful supporting performances and has them occupy a post Katrina New Orleans.
The story involves a New Orleans police officer named Terence Mcdonagh who redefines corruption. He wanders the streets mostly looking for drugs. He makes frequent stops to see his girlfriend (Eva Mendes), who is a hooker. Early in the film he stops a couple outside of a club. He shakes them down, finding a few narcotics on the man, then begins arresting them. The couple begs not to be taken in. Mcdonagh settles for a hit and basically rapes the girl in front of her boyfriend.
The plot involves the New Orleans police investigating an execution style murder of a family. All signs point towards a local kingpin named Big Fate, played by Xzibit. But that is simply a back drop for us to follow around Nicolas Cage as he basically goes off the deep end.
Surrounding Cage we get Val Kilmer as his partner, Brad Dourif as his bookie, Fairuza Balk who is in pretty good shape, Michael Shannon as one of the few non negative characters as well as the already mentioned Eva Mendes and Xzibit. They all do a good job but the movie belongs to Cage.
There is one more scene I want to talk about and it involves a moment where Herzog places random iguanas in the foreground of the frame. When Cage enters, he seems to be the only one who can see them. He can’t take his eyes off of them. Herzog keeps the camera on them for an unnaturally long time and this causes the Cage character to be come unnerved rather quickly. I have no clue what Herzog was doing but I fully appreciated his audacity to just sit there with the shot.
This movie is not for everyone. It contains drugs, brutal violence, and some of the most immoral behaviour known to man. You have to be able to appreciate the bravery it takes to see an actor portray himself in such an unflattering light. This movie is being released in a very limited release so it might be hard to find but I hope that you seek it out because it is worth it.