Friday 21 May 2010

The Bad Lieutenant - Port of Call: New Orleans review

The Bad Lieutenant - Port of Call: New Orleans (18, 122 mins)
Director: Werner Herzog
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

Bad Lieutenant was a controversial 1992 police drama that starred Harvey Keitel as a thoroughly corrupt and irredeemable cop. Set in New Orleans in the aftermath of Katrina, this in-name-only follow up is neither sequel nor remake but a crazed beast all of its own that brings in Nicolas Cage as the not so nice officer on the trail of some drug dealers.

For all that he’s addicted to painkillers and $5000 in the hole to his bookie, he still has an instinct for good police work, even if he’s more interested in stealing drugs from suspects and intimidating old ladies than making arrests. Director Werner Herzog is too busy having an enormous giggle to worry overly about an actual plot, which goes out the window fairly early.

Don’t for a minute expect a standard police procedural, not from this star and this director, who wisely realise the only way something this ripe can be justified is if it’s a rip-roaring black comedy. And it certainly is that; lurid, over the top and hilarious as Cage rampages through the city, abusing the guilty and the innocent alike, having more fun than he’s had in years, doing insane brilliantly without going bug-eyed.

What’s most remarkable is that it has the salt not to descend into a morality tale like many similar movies would. Just when you think it can’t get any nuttier, Herzog throws in a point of view shot from an imaginary iguana. And really, the only way it could have been any more demented is if he had reanimated the corpse of Klaus Kinski to play the lead.

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