The Bad Lieutenant: Port Of Call – New Orleans (Werner Herzog, USA 2009)


For a significant portion of Herzog’s brilliant TBL:PoCNO (as it will henceforth be known) I was unsure whether I was watching a work of genius or the most preposterous piece of garbage I had ever watched.  Similarly I was unable to decide whether it was the performance of Nicholas Cage’s career or he was simply a retard.  On reflection I think that “work of genius” and “performance of his career” are probably closest to the truth.

Do not watch TBL:PoCNO if you are expecting a retread of Abel Ferrara’s bleak 1992 masterpiece from which this film gets it’s name.  In fact you are probably best served ignoring the words “Bad Lieutenant” entirely as they only serve to confuse and confound your expectations of it.  The film bears little resemblance to Ferrara’s film in terms of aim, style or tone and the name is only there because the producer allegedly wanted to create a franchise.  My love (though I’m not sure if that is the correct term to be honest) for Ferrara’s film is what caused my initial confusion when watching TBL:PoCNO as i was unsure as to whether I should be taking Herzog’s with the same level of seriousness.  It wasn’t until about half way through the film that I realised I was watching a parody of mainstream Hollywood crime cinema and it’s cliches.  The final realisation of the film’s aim as parody coming in the fantastic scene towards the end where several storylines gain closure in a parade of ridiculousness.

This is Cage’s film all the way though and it is a joy to watch him chewing his way through this madness and for some reason turning into Jimmy Stewart half way through the film.  It is not a subtle performance and if you are not a fan of Nicholas Cage then chances are you will hate him even more after watching him in this.  For those of us who enjoy his work, particularly his early, edgier roles, then TBL:PoCNO is truly a treat.

Whilst I absolutely loved this film by the time it had finished it is perhaps difficult to truly recommend it.  Most people will probably find it ridiculous, over the top and nonsensical.  For me though sometimes that is recommendation enough!


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