Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call - New Orleans (2009)


After injuring his back saving a prisoner drowning during the floods of Katrina, Terence McDonagh (Nic Cage) is promoted to Lieutenant. Over the next couple of years he develops severe gambling, cocaine, and vicodin issues, leading him to perform busts on party goers for whatever drugs they have on them. Things only get worse when a family of locals is massacred, the key witness escapes his custody, his bookie comes to collect his $5k, and his prostitute girlfriend, Frankie (Eva Mendes), gets in a bad way with a customer who has too many connections. Now Terence must pull together whatever he has left in him to escape this situation.

You know after reading countless positive reviews on Bad Lieutenant, despite my many reservations, I decided it was worth the effort of checking out. It didn't take me long to realize that all the things my fellow bloggers loved, raved about, and enjoyed were things that I just couldn't stand. I'm not sure if Bad Lieutenant is a dark comedy, poetic mind screw, random collection of stupidity, or just a bad film masquerading as more, but I can say I didn't much care for any of it. Most of the film's runtime I felt bored, uncaring, begging for it to just get to the ending already. The performances are a mix mash of underused talent (Kilmer, Dourif) and over used mediocrity (Xzibit).

Each time spent with Terence feels like an exercise in willpower, who can bare to stare at his actions longer, the camera or the viewer. His decisions, statements, personality quirks, do of course make us all get a better understanding but it all comes down to one truth: the guy's a self-absorbed jerk, one not worth the effort of hoping for. At no time are we given the slightest insight that anything will change, and the whole time things keep working out for this character, as if we're supposed to believe that this is for the best. All of these events culminate in what I may dare call one of the most absurd, and unnecessary, endings of the year. It almost feels as if the writer felt sorry for this character he created, and I'm sorry but I don't, and think he fully had what was coming too him.

Of course the movie does have one saving grace: Herzog. What he does behind the camera does give the film a strong sense of style and levity that keeps it from being an absolute terror. He utilizes old school noir, blended nicely with the more fantasy aspects of today. The style is what makes Bad Lieutenant bearable as films go. The rest, well it's all there just as you'd expect, and all the bloggers here will lead you to believe, it's really just a question of whether or not what's there works for you.

Some may call it poetic, some may call it absurd, entertaining, etc. I'll just call it a jumbled mess, pretending to be more, and leave it at that.

1 better thoughts:

Lemmy Caution said...

I was suprised at all the 'good buzz' I had been reading about this flick I also checked it out over the holiday.

Pretty bad.

Cage is really something....hard to take your eyes off him in most scenes, but he is completely surrounded by bad acting, bad story, and lizards.

By the end I had pretty much had it with Herzog trying desperately to make something vague and artistic out of what should have just been a straight to video script.

Once again though....Cage. Damn. Every time I want to hate him for the tons of crap he does....he pulls something like this or ADAPTATION out of the bag.

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