Once upon a time, Nicolas Cage was known for his acting skills more than for his off-screen troubles. He attempted to get back to his glory with mixed results in Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans, now on DVD.
Bad Lieutenant followed newly promoted Lt. Terence McDonagh (Cage) as he rose through the ranks of the New Orleans Police Department. The Lieutenant appeared to have everything he ever wanted in the form of a perfect career and the company of his prostitute girlfriend Frankie (Eva Mendes). He also had the respect of his former partner Stevie (Val Kilmer) and the other members of his department. What they don’t know was that their new Lieutenant had a dark side that was going to catch up to him. He received his job title and a corresponding back injury only relieved any drug he could find. McDonagh’s addiction had him doing the unthinkable, which including stealing and sleeping with a female suspect. While he searched for more drugs, he had to investigate the murder of an immigrant family perpetrated by a drug dealer known as Big Fate (Xzibit). Can McDonagh keep his addictions under control or will he lose everything instead?
Unfortunately, Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans had a lot going against it from the start. The film was an unofficial remake of a 1992 film starring Harvey Keitel as the unhinged cop, which was a far better execution than this version. Mainly, the film failed because of a poorly constructed script that focused too many times on lizards when it should’ve been on the story at hand. Lieutenant’s ending was also too unrealistic and almost seemed like a joke to the audience. The movie had McDonagh clearly crossing more than enough legal and moral lines in order to be punished, except the story copped out on punishing the character for his sins. If McDonagh was forced to answer for his behavior, the conclusion would’ve been much stronger and the movie wouldn’t have been a waste of time.
In terms of the cast, Cage was the only one who was given the breathing room to act in the movie. He was in at least ninety eight percent of the movie, which was way too much. Werner Herzog, the film’s director, gave Cage too much leverage to rant and rave at the camera when the rest of the cast should’ve been given more to do. Mendes was basically pretty scenery for Cage and the audience to look at when McDonagh’s behavior bordered on too campy. Kilmer had little too do, except act like a much more lethal version of Cage’s character. He should’ve had more screen time because he had the potential to balance out Cage’s over the top performance. Two bad cops would’ve been better than one.
Verdict: Cage getting back to his acting glory days in a less than stellar picture.
DVD Score: 1.5 out of 5 stars
Movie Rating: R
1 Star (Mediocre)
2 Stars (Averagely Entertaining)
3 Stars (Decent Enough to Pass Muster)
4 Stars (Near Perfect)
5 Stars (Gold Standard)