Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans Review
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It’s been a long time since Nicolas Cage was last lauded for his acting. Lately, he’s been known more for overacting his crazy little heart out in cheesy action movies like Bangkok Dangerous and Next. But then he made a brilliant career move: he hooked up with an equally eccentric director, Werner Herzog. And now he’s been critically hailed for overacting his crazy little heart out in Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans, an often perplexingly over-the-top movie with loads of art house cred.

Six months ago, Terrence McDonagh (Cage) injured his back while saving a prisoner from the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. And although the act earned him a promotion to lieutenant, it also earned him a prescription for Vicodin, which grew into a serious drug addiction.

Now, Terrence will do anything to get his hands on more drugs. He’ll steal from the precinct’s property room. He’ll intimidate teenagers and walk away with their stash. He’ll wheel and deal and threaten and swindle.

Still, there’s a job to be done. When a family of illegal Senegalese immigrants is executed, a young witness leads Terrence to Big Fate (Alvin “Xzibit” Joiner), a drug dealer who might be of use—especially after Terrence racks up a $50,000 debt while defending his prostitute/girlfriend, Frankie (Eva Mendes), from a violent customer.

Bad Lieutenant is the perfect outlet for Nic Cage’s infamously over-the-top performances. As Terrence, he’s completely unhinged—and he throws himself into the role, right down to his character’s crooked posture. While I’ll freely admit that I often find Cage’s overacting wildly (though often inappropriately) entertaining, in this pitch-black comic crime thriller, it’s more than just appropriate; it’s essential. Who else would you get to play the role of a drug-addicted cop who steals from evidence to snort coke in the precinct bathroom? Who else could giggle like a madman when faced with the iguanas and break-dancing thugs of his drug-induced hallucinations?

Still, in case you haven’t picked up on it yet, Bad Lieutenant is a peculiar film, with a sense of humor so dark that you’ll often wonder if you’re really supposed to laugh—or if it’s all just some outlandish artistic statement. And, knowing Herzog, it could probably go either way.

You’ll never really know what Bad Lieutenant will hand you next. The haunting score plays up on the film’s mournful seediness, yet Cage’s outrageous behavior and the close-ups of lizards add more than just a touch of the bizarre. It gets crazier and crazier—obviously building up to something big—until it comes to the conclusion that you’d least expect.

Bad Lieutenant is odd and unpredictable, and it’s anything but mainstream—but it’s definitely memorable, too. And if you’re a Cage fan, don’t miss it. You’ll love seeing Nic in his element.

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