The Bad Lieutenant Port of Call New Orleans

The Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call, New Orleans


What were they thinking, all of them:  Herzog, Cage, Pressman? Has Ferrera seen it?  Was it possible for him not to enjoy it (he wished it makers to collectively blow up upon hearing about a remake to his film “Bad Lieutenant)?  And why bother to label it a remake in the first place? “The Bad Lieutenant” is a film strong and remarkable enough to stand on its own, and different enough to not have to face comparison to the bleakness and hopelessness of 1992’s “Bad Lieutenant.”

The names, locations, just about everything have changed from the original film, except the fact that both lieutenants are bad. They both engage in drugs and are a bit freewheeling with the pistol.  End comparison.

Now, let’s look at the film as its own entity. It takes place in New Orleans, right after Katrina. It is a grimy, run down swampland Louisiana—no punches are pulled. This is a land in need of recovery.

During Katrina, LT (who is, I believe, one rank lower at this juncture) injures his back helping out an inmate who would otherwise drown. He asks the doctor how long he’ll be in pain. The doctor presumes it will be ongoing for the rest of his life.

Now, one must understand this was not a feat of heroism turned bad—but rather a breaking point. We are introduced to Cage’s character, along with his partner, played by Val Kilmer (subdued, though his first good role in a while), as cretins, jerks, opportunists. One detective flees when Katrina hits. Cage invades his locker and steals nudie photos of his woman.

But, now six months after he saves the inmate, he is all hopped up on pills and things are only getting worse. He comes from addicts: his father is now addicted to his addiction programs and his girlfriend is a drug addled prostitute (albeit a beautiful one).

This Bad LT doesn’t have a moment of catharsis—there is no huge case that calls everything into question. Rather he dips straight into sanity as pushes one step too hard during a murder investigation that he admits, he never cared about catching the killer anyway (one can argue the accuracy of this after the film ends).

Werner Herzog, the crazy director of well over sixty films creates a world one must get used to. For the first half hour of the film, I was disturbed—the acting seemed horrible; the editing and music cheesy, and I thought it was no question a sub par remake of Ferrera’s ugly masterpiece.  Then I started to see things from a crocodile’s perspective.

Now maybe it was my unfair presumption about its relation to “Bad Lieutenant” which caused the first quarter of the film to play less than stellar for me. More likely, however, Herzog was slowly enwrapping us in a world that is in no way real…and getting less real. The viewer unravels with Cage’s character. First I questioned what I saw. Then I learned to live with it. Then I really enjoyed it. Kind of like Cage’s laugh at the end of the film.

Speaking of Nicolas Cage. Wow!  A master of overacting, every once in a while (when he’s not playing a straight romantic or action hero) he plays a character expertly. This is a role built for Nic Cage. Who else could so gleefully go for broke; who could so boldly stare an iguana in the face while others ignored it? Who else could have no limiter? He occasionally becomes Jimmy Stewart (Jeremy, I couldn’t believe you weren’t exaggerating) for no apparent reason other than…well, he is crazy and that is what he is doing. And the final shot of the movie is brilliant, the last slice of the editor.

And it isn’t just Cage that is crazy. The whole film is hyper real. People air out their business right in front of everyone in a police station. One guy is a gambling bookie. Another guy hired people to mess with Cage—and is now explaining, to a public office, that he is OK with the fact that Cage may be responsible for the disappearances of these men.

I was going to write about how, with Cage being in nearly every shot, why couldn’t this have at least opened in as many theatres as something stupid like “Next?” Why couldn’t they have used Cage’s star power to push this flick to the masses. Some things are just a bit too wild and crazy for the general public.

I am not sure how Herzog, Cage, et. al prepped for this film. The entire production goes all out in a way that seems hazardous. Maybe they were just having fun and got lucky. However Herzog has too much control and experience. He was able to hone the craziness into a film about insanity, addiction, forgiveness, and lizards. Notice the end credit sequence where Herzog proudly takes credit for the iguana photography.  His reasoning for the iguana photography is that he likes the stupidity of these animals.

Cage may not be stupid—he may actually be rather clever, but he is certainly crazy, and often bad. But hey, that doesn’t mean all can’t work out in the end! Sane, crazy…haven’t you ever looked around at the world we live in? Hah-

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