Even though the Werner Herzog film Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call: New Orleans, appears to borrow from Abel Ferrara’s 1992 film Bad Lieutenant, it is in no way related to it; the only connection apart from the name being a drug addicted crooked cop.
Terrence McDonagh (Nicolas Cage) is a New Orleans Police Sergeant, who in the wake of Hurricane Katrina saves a prisoners life and is promoted. Unfortunately due to his courage, he suffers a serious back injury and as a result, prescribed long-term medication. Six months later, McDonagh is addicted to painkillers as well as non- prescription drugs and takes advantage of his position as Lieutenant and his girlfriend situation as a prostitute to get what he needs. This includes getting in with a known drug leader, threatening the lives of two old ladies and fixing a football match to pay off his debts. The movie ends skipping one year later, showing McDonagh appearing to be on the right track with his career and family while still with a drug habit. He runs into the prisoner he saved at the start of the film and gets encouragement from him to sort his life out once and for all. This re-introduction of the prisoner rounds the film off in a strange but rather fitting way. Considering McDonagh’s pain is caused a result of the prisoners escape, it gives McDonagh the reassurance that saving the prisoner was worth the pain and now the prisoner will repay his gratitude by getting McDonagh off of drugs.
The character of a drug-addicted cop is nothing new to the big screen, but the way in which Cage portrays such a character is incredible. He gives his best performance in ages in astounding detail and believability. At times he takes you back with how unbelievably elevated his personality appears, how crazed and dangerous he can become and how far he can take advantage of those around him. Eva Mendes starred alongside Nicholas Cage in Ghost Rider in 2007 and they make a welcomed return to the big screen together. Val Kilmer however has seen better days. He has portrayed characters in the legal profession before but doesn’t seem to do this character justice, mainly due to the limited part. It is about time Kilmer got back onto the big screen with a much larger role.
If there were to be only one reason to see Bad Lieutenant, then Cage’s performance would be it.