The Bad Lieutenant: Port Of Call - New Orleans (a review)
(Copied from my external BLOG )
Nicolas Cage has been proving his diversity as an actor time and time again; I can tell you now that The Bad Lieutenant is a striking example of this. After thoroughly enjoying his portrayal of Big Daddy in Kick-Ass, it was interesting to see the character of Terence McDonagh, a decidedly dark and startlingly corrupt cop brought to the screen for comparison.
Nick Cage, our harmless protagonist (in family films such as National Treasure and hillbilly comedy Raising Arizona) truly outdid himself in this piece. Despite looking and sounding like Herman Munster after root canal treatment in parts, Cage delivered a disturbingly unique portrayal of one truly screwed up cop. His comedic attributes worked well in combination with the dark, painfully troubled flipside of his character, and surprises audiences with humorous mood-swings before plunging us back into gritty realism, with some hardcore drug abuse and sexual corruption. His sluggish tone of voice worked exceptionally well in scenes which required a more unsettling atmosphere to reflect the genre, and yet contrasted for comedic value in the funnier scenes.
However, despite the definite elements of comedy throughout the film, for example the hopeless, ironic character of Genevieve (Jennifer Coolidge), this was a cop drama with a razor sharp edge. The screenplay, I feel, was cleverly devised with a clear aim to absorb the essence of gang communities, particularly in relation to the issues of black-on-black crime that were present in the film. For example, Big Fate (Xhibit) expresses a kind of ghetto-snobbery towards Afrikaans, which I feel really added a subtle spice to the realism of the film, and produced a certain flavour which is actually missing in most Hollywood cop dramas.
This film truly explored the grey areas of crime, particularly in relation to ‘bent’ cops, which past directors have proved a far too risky venture to achieve the desired all-pleasing affect on their audiences. The often sleazy, yet well-researched attitudes of the characters might not be suited to those more partial to family blockbusters, but would certainly quench the thirsts of those who appreciate crime/drug gems such as 21 Grams and Mystic River. Without giving too much away, the juxtaposition of two key scenes at beginning and end wrapped the film up nicely, but also gave a zesty little twist to boot.
Director Werner Herzog brought a delicious, refreshing approach to filming with what I perceived to be quite an abstract view. Unlike directors such as Spike Jones or Michel Gondry, Herzog used very little ambition in regards to camera techniques, but created some charming, animalistic themes; opening with the snake and ending with the aquatic scene was a nice touch to reflect the character’s journey. Plus I just like animals.
However, given that hallucinogenic drugs were the primary focus of our “hero’s” downfall, this is where the director truly struck gold with me.
The iguanas were interesting and humorous expressions of Terence’s twisted, drug-induced mind, particularly with Cage’s gormless drug-happy face. Similarly, I enjoyed the ‘dancing soul’, which featured a break-dancing performance and added a satirical tongue-in-cheek dollop of craziness into the concoction. Although such scenes created a great deal of what-the-f/ckery, they were executed with great clarity by all involved.
Eva Mendes played her part sufficiently, though I couldn’t help but feel that her character was expendable; despite being a main focus of the film, she added little to the overall appeal. She was convincing as a hooker, but that was all I’m afraid.
One noticeable fault, for me, was the overall pace of the film; it did a good job of convincing me that Terence’s life was truly spiralling into an abyss, and believe me, I didn’t miss the typical hyper-speed of some of the more airheaded cop films. However, it left a little to be desired, and at points had me fidgeting in my seat. That said, the abrupt, yet unexpected ending just about pulled it out, and left the entire piece on a high note.
In all, it was a refreshing insight into cinema with a colourful new vision, and a terrific performance from Nick Cage. Full price!
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