Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans
Release year: 2009 • Posted March 31, 2014
“Dr. Everything’ll Be Alright /
Will make everything go wrong /
Pills and thrills and daffodils will kill /
Hang tough children, he’s coming!”
Prince, “Let’s Go Crazy”
Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans (BL:PoCNO going forward) is the artistic union of two people who are both the same kind of manageable crazy. Look at director Werner Herzog describe the film from his perspective. Now watch Nic Cage’s take. Just like peanut butter and chocolate or reggae and punk rock, Herzog and Cage use their seemingly oppositional forces to collaborate on something that borders on genius.
There’s not much of a plot to BL:PoCNO. It’s a continuation (not a remake) of the idea started in 1992’s Bad Lieutenant. The movie follows around a New Orleans cop (Cage), who, following an injury suffered in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, becomes addicted to pain killers, cocaine, heroin, gambling, sex, and himself. Nic’s performance is beautiful. It’s a symphony of Cage’s solipsism.
Herzog films scenes with cameras strapped to the heads of crocodiles. He feels Nic could have gone farther in the scene where he assaults an ailing elderly woman and her caregiver. He snorts heroin and makes men watch as he rapes their dates. This movie is a self-indulgent saga of depravity and I cannot get enough of it. What Cage did in Leaving Las Vegas, artfully portraying an alcoholic struggling with depression, he reinvents in BL:PoCNO. Here he tactlessly portrays a man unrepentant for his weaknesses, struggling to keep the beach ball of addiction hidden under water, out of the sight of anyone who would care to stop him.
The depravity of his performance is captivating. He smokes and snorts a litany of substances, reacting to each in an individually authentic way. He is supported by an eclectic and perfect cast that includes Brad Douriff, Fat Val Kilmer, Xzibit, Jennifer Coolidge, Fairuza Balk, and the ever lovely Eva Mendes in the best role of her career.
There isn’t much more to say about BL:PoCNO. It’s like trying to parse Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, but if the main character didn’t have to share the screen as much. This is the opposite of Moonstruck. All involved are actively and generously supporting Cage.
If you watch only one of the thirty movies reviewed so far, let it be BL:PoCNO. This is Cage at his finest and if you don’t like it, you probably don’t like him.
- Nic Cage’s acting?
- Did his performance make the movie worse?