BAD LIEUTENANT: PORT OF CALL NEW ORLEANS
All’s Well That Ends Well?
Release Date: November 20, 2009
Starring: Nicolas Cage, Eva Mendes,
Alvin Xzibit Joiner, Val
Kilmer, Brad Dourif, Fairuza
Balk, Shawn Hatosy, and Vondie
Genre: Detective Thriller
Runtime: 130 minutes
Distributor: First Look Studios
Director: Werner Herzog
Executive Producer: Avi Lerner, Dany Dimbort,
Trevor Short, Boaz Davidson,
and Elliot Rosenblatt
Producer: Edward R. Pressman, Randall
Emmett, Alan Polsky, Gaby
Polsky, and Stephen Belafonte
Writer: William Finkelstein
Address Comments To:Trevor Short, CEO, First Look Studios
Avi Lerner and Danny Dimbort
Co-Chairmen of Nu Image
2000 Avenue of the Stars, Suite 410
Los Angeles, CA 90067
Phone: (424) 202-5000; Fax: (424) 202-5310
Cage plays Lieutenant Terence McDonagh, who’s working homicide in New Orleans six months after Hurricane Katrina. When Katrina struck, the Lieutenant took pity on a prisoner trapped in a cell full of water when the prisoner started praying to Jesus. Now, however, McDonagh has to medicate severe back pain with prescription drugs and, unknown to his boss, cocaine. Also unknown to his boss, McDonagh is involved with a beautiful prostitute, played by Eva Mendes, while, on the side, he owes a couple thousand dollars to his bookie.
McDonagh and his men begin working on a case where a drug boss murdered five illegal immigrants from Africa, including two children, because one of the immigrants tried to cut in on his territory. A teenage delivery boy’s testimony is the only evidence against the crime boss, but McDonagh loses the boy when he left him alone for a couple minutes with his prostitute girlfriend. Then, McDonagh loses another $3,000 to his bookie. One of his girlfriend’s clients has sent some goons to strong arm them for $50,000 because McDonagh routed the client after he beat her.
Angry at the witness for leaving him in the lurch, a doped up McDonagh threatens the boy’s grandmother and the elderly woman who’s paying the grandmother to fix her hair. The elderly woman turns out to have a congressman for a grandson, however. So, the internal affairs department removes him from active duty and puts him at work in the property room while they investigate the woman’s complaint.
Suddenly, McDonagh sees a way out of his money woes. He decides to inform the drug boss about the plans of the narcotics cops who drop off confiscated drugs at the property room. McDonagh’s plans go south when the goons from his girlfriend’s disgruntled client show up at the residence of the drug boss while McDonagh’s collecting a big payoff. Always thinking, McDonagh sees a way to kill two birds with one stone, and solve all his problems, including perhaps his drug addiction.
BAD LIEUTENANT is a high ironic story where the hero succeeds by a quirk of fate. Until that happens, however, the movie is very uneven. The biggest problem is Nicolas Cage’s wacky performance, which ranges from bizarre and unconvincing to very good and sometimes compelling.
The most interesting aspects, however, are the Christian references in the beginning and ending of the movie. In the opening scene, Cage’s character saves a prisoner because the prisoner started to pray. In the final two scenes, the prisoner, now out on probation, stops Cage from starting to snort cocaine again while, eventually, the soundtrack starts playing the great Gospel hymn, “A Closer Walk with Thee.”
These positive Christian references are supported by another event that occurs in the movie. At one point, Cage’s character hides his girlfriend at his father’s place to protect her from the goons her client sent after her. His father, an alcoholic, has just started attending AA recovery meetings again. Later, Cage’s character learns his father started taking Cage’s girlfriend to his AA meetings, and, eventually, she signs herself into rehab and straightens herself out. In fact, near the end, Cage’s character, his girlfriend, his father, and the father’s wife are sitting around a table and it appears that all have recovered from their addictions.
Thus, BAD LIETUENANT ends on some positive moral and spiritually uplifting notes, even though the very end is a bit too subtle and not as strong as it could have been.
That said, the drug use in this movie is virtually constant and excessive, despite the movie’s ultimate endorsement of Alcoholics Anonymous and drug rehab treatment. BAD LIETENANT also contains abundant foul language, some strong violence, strong sexual content, and brief partial nudity.
BAD LIEUTENANT is a high ironic story where the anti-hero succeeds by a quirk of fate. Until that happens, the movie is very uneven. The biggest problem is Nicolas Cage’s wacky performance, which ranges from unconvincing to sometimes compelling. The movie contains a light Christian worldview endorsing Alcoholics Anonymous and drug rehab, but it is marred by excessive drug abuse, abundant foul language, strong violence, and brief lewd content.