“In Werner Herzog’s new film ‘Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans,’ Nicolas Cage plays a rogue detective who is as devoted to his job as he is at scoring drugs — while playing fast and loose with the law. He wields his badge as often as he wields his gun in order to get his way. In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina he becomes a high-functioning addict who is a deeply intuitive, fearless detective reigning over the beautiful ruins of New Orleans with authority and abandon. Complicating his tumultuous life is the prostitute he loves (played by Eva Mendes). Together they descend into their own world marked by desire, compulsion, and conscience. The result is a singular masterpiece of filmmaking: equally sad and manically humorous.”
“Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans” is rated R for drug use and language throughout, some violence and sexuality.
The movie starts out straightforward enough. Nicolas Cage is Terence McDonagh, a cop that was once good but whose dependence on painkillers drove him further and further down the path of corruption. As he gets mixed up in bribery, gambling, prostitution, and drug dealing, his world progressively crumbles around him. That’s where the weirdness really kicks in. McDonagh starts having hallucinations about iguanas that lead to odd, random scenes in the movie. He starts doing bizarre things like putting a gun to a little old lady’s head to make her answer questions. He roughs up a young couple in order to get drugs from them, then holds a gun on the boyfriend as he has sex with the girl on a car. Yeah, you read that right. McDonagh’s behavior becomes more and more erratic in his pursuit of drugs and, believe it or not, Cage actually seems to take on a different accent and different posture in his performance as the story progresses. He seems to be doing some imitation of Columbo. I couldn’t make this stuff up.
So as you can see, it starts out like a mainstream cop drama and ends up being a weird Werner Herzog indie film. It’s a strange transition that should appeal to independent film fans but will more than likely turn off mainstream movie fans. I think if the movie had starred anyone besides Nicolas Cage it would venture into the realm of the unwatchable, but somehow Cage makes it worth sticking with to the end. You may hate it at the end, but you’ll still watch it.
Beyond Cage, the movie has a strong supporting cast. Eva Mendes delivers a strong performance as Frankie Donnenfeld, the drug addicted prostitute girlfriend of McDonagh. It’s also good to see Val Kilmer in action again as Stevie Pruit. His role is small but he’s well paired with Cage. Then you have Brad Dourif as the bookie Ned Schoenholtz, Xzibit as the drug lord Big Fate, and Jennifer Coolidge as Genevieve. You couldn’t ask for a better supporting cast. Then, of course, you have post-Katrina New Orleans which is practically a character in itself. The city always adds an interesting backdrop to any movie and this is no different. From the French Quarter to the alligator infested highways, Herzog makes the most of it.
“Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans” was a bit too weird for my tastes, but I think it will appeal a lot to fans of Werner Herzog and any fan of Nicolas Cage’s more bizarre roles. Don’t let the Blu-ray cover fool you – this is a lot more ‘out there’ than you would expect.
There are really only two bonus features on this Blu-ray. The first is a photo gallery shot by Herzog’s wife. It is a nice collection of pictures. The other bonus feature is a ‘making of’ documentary. It’s kind of in the ‘fly on the wall’ format where you see them shooting the movie and chatting behind the scenes. But there are also sit-down interviews with the cast and crew. It does help a little to hear Herzog explain what he’s doing with the film.