Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Bad Lieutenant:: Port Of Call - New Orleans

Cage opens up and releases a new kind of psycho. But can he outperform Keitel's cult favourite or is this another remake that's just plain ... bad?

Nicolas Cage is one of those rare entities in Hollywood. Not only has he secured his name for being completely mad, buying all kinds of crazy stuff, not paying his taxes and pretty much doing anything for a quick buck, even turning on the Christmas lights in Bath last year, but the list of characters he has portrayed is rather strange. Whether it's a beefed up action hero in Con Air, a reflective writer in Adaptation, a comic hero in Ghost Rider, or a heart-throb in City of Angels he's never been shoved into a box and Herzog joins the long list of acclaimed directors Cage has had the pleasure of working with, but seeing as Cage has hit a bit of a bad run recently, is this a renaissance for the man? Well, almost.

Cage's character Terence is so completely over-the-top that you'd think Cage's zany personality would compliment it perfectly, except for the fact that Cage has also gone completely over-the-top making it a bit awkward to watch. You can't help but think it's too try-hard and that it's not near dark or gritty enough to be taken seriously. But that's just it, it borders on the absurd and downright hilarious, which isn't really what it should be aiming for. There are some great pieces such as screwing a girl while making her boyfriend watch, and smoking crack with a terrible Xzibit, but this whole film seems to be a sequence of events that all fall into place at the end. It also seems that by doing the right thing initially and paying the price for it (though the reason why he injured his back is hardly mentioned), he will spend the rest of his days not caring for anyone else. Except that he does care for other people, his father and his girlfriend Mendes to name a couple. Val Kilmer seems to even be more cut-throat than he and hardly gets a mention.

There's no point going over the story because it's basically about a bad cop trying to play one side against the other and that's all you need to know. It's narrative is simple yet enjoyable and, much like The Shield that I've finished recently, it's always good fun watching dirty cops. Mendes does well with her prostitute character but the femme fatale role is something she is used to by now and they have as much electricity between them as they did in Ghost Rider - aka none.

The directing is okay, but hit-and-miss at the best of times. Herzog relates Terence to the animals surrounding him, by showing the world through their eyes, much like we are seeing New Orleans through Terence's - but why set it in New Orleans in the first place? This raised a number of issues for me. We all know about the government letting the survivors down, so perhaps Cage represents this or maybe it's the idea of a broken city, a man literally broken by Hurricane Katrina and left to fend for himself in it's wake with a pain that will be with him forever. Though these might all be credible, it is more to do with the idea that no matter how low you sink, you can always pull it back and that there's a faint glimmer of hope that shines throughout the whole thing, a hope for New Orleans, a hope for humanity - or maybe it's just because it was a nice place to film in.

Roger Ebert names this as one of his films of the last decade but then anyone with half a brain wouldn't listen to what he says anyway. Don't get me wrong, this isn't shit, but it's not great either. This isn't better than the dirty New York cop films coming out even in the 70s, and after coming out of The Shield recently, it all seems a bit lame in comparison and Nicolas Cage is far from scary, or even intimidating. Its a great way to kill a couple of hours but this won't be more than that. For anyone who thought this film was amazing, they should try watching something with a bit more meat and that doesn't rely on a character who is more pathetic than anything. Also, that's one hell of a long title!

Rating: 6/10

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