Toronto: Nicolas Cage's hilarious performance fuels 'Bad Lieutenant'
Werner Herzog's entertaining flick is more comedy than thriller, but it works
I'm not sure who is going to acquire Werner Herzog's "Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans," but lord I hope someone does. Surprisingly funny and immensely entertaining, "Bad Lieutenant" is markedly different than it's 1992 predecessor (which is best known for star Harvey Keitel's full frontal nude scene), but beyond the new locale, the film really sets itself apart by Nicolas Cage's fantastic performance.
Set in a post-Katrina New Orleans, "Bad Lieutenant" follows a few days in the life of a Terence McDonagh (Cage) , a career officer in the city police force who suffers from chronic back pain that he can only tolerate by over indulging on prescription drugs, cocaine, heroin and, um, you name it. Things start to go wrong for McDonagh when he's asked to investigate the cold-blooded murder of five Sengalese immigrants. At the same time, a series of events conspire to bring McDonagh's world into a spiral including his hooker girlfriend (Eva Mendes in her element) being blackmailed by a mob thug, his bookie coming after him for $10,000 and a dangerous arrangement with the drug dealing murder suspect Big Fate (a surprising Xzibit). "Bad" man indeed. As the chips fall into place, however, it's McDonagh's crazy luck and smarts portrayed in a smart, relaxed and almost lighthearted style by Cage that makes the storyline work. And even though the tension dissipates as the outlandish events increase throughout the story, the audience still finds itself rooting for McDonagh, a man so screwed up he'll pull over a couple on false charges and then screw a man's girlfriend just to get his desperate cocaine hit. That's not an easy accomplishment for any director, but Herzog really pulls it off.
Val Kilmer, Michael Shannon and Shawn Hatosy are all solid as colleagues in the forece and Fariuza Balk is incredibly sexy in a brief cameo, but it's Cage who is the real star here. This writer tried to recall the last time the Oscar-winner came across as sympathetic, unintentionally endearing and someone you really root for. "Face/Off"? "The Rock"? Shoot, even his work in "Leaving Las Vegas" wasn't easy to watch. In any event, it's been quite a long time. And just as long since Cage has looked like he's been having such a blast on screen. If "Lieutenant" could find distribution soon to make a 2009 release, Cage would stand an excellent shot at another Oscar nomination. No matter what the outcome in that respect, his performance should grab the attention of many filmmakers and producers who may have shied away from him for edgier roles because of his recent run of flicks like "National Treasure," "Knowing" and insert lame thriller here.
"Lieutenant's" thematic point-of-view may not be for everyone, but judging by the audience reaction at the press screening this afternoon it could become a favorite of many.
For constant updates on awards season and entertainment news follow Gregory Ellwood on Twitter atTwitter.com/HitFixGregory
News From Our Partners
- Cannes Film Festival: Cannes 2013, Day Three: Cheers for the young stars of The Selfish Giant, jeers for the new films by Hirokazu Kore-eda and Arnaud Desplechin Hear This: Destroy This Place shows how press releases can get it right Watch This: With Beavis And Butt-head Do America, Mike Judge skewered the idiocy of cinematic adventures
- 'Anchorman 2′ Teaser: Stay Classy, Fat Face! Team Fortress 2′s Robotic Boogaloo Community Update Adds Even More Hats Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D to Launch with L.A. Zoo's Party Animals
- Beyonce Pregnant Again? Sources Confirm 'Epic' Star Is Carrying Baby No. 2 'Hangover 3' Red Band Trailer: Take a Walk Down a NSFW Memory Lane (VIDEO) Why 'Man of Steel' Didn't Use 'Superman' in the Title
- The Future Of Olivia And Fitz, And More Season 3 Scoop SPOILER ALERT: What's Ahead In 'Nikita' Season 4? Google Glass Does Porn
- The Telefile - The Most Heinous Person on Reality TV This Week The Telefile - Modern Family: The Best Lines of the Night The Telefile - Fall TV 2013: What's On When
- Can You Guess Which Celebrity Lives in This Mansion? Macklemore + Ryan Lewis Cover Billboard, Recall the Glory Days of Drugs, Myspace + More Lady Gaga Wears Sky High Heels to Versace Party [Pic]
- What to Watch This Weekend: The Season Finales of Nikita, Doctor Who, The Simpsons, and Family Guy The Office Series Finale Review: That'll Do, Show. That'll Do. Syfy Renews Warehouse 13 for a Fifth and Final Season
- How Far Will 'Star Trek Into Darkness' Boldly Go At Box Office? 'Star Trek Into Darkness': The Secret Behind The Mystery Villain 'Pacific Rim' Trailer Surfaces: Watch Now!
Love and radiation in a nuclear worldSaturday, May 18, 2013
Harvey holds court with Nicole Kidman and Rooney MaraFriday, May 17, 2013
Francois Ozon's latest isn't as titillating as it wants to beThursday, May 16, 2013
Look who finally made it to the CroisetteWednesday, May 15, 2013