The Bad Lieutenant Blu-ray

Thursday, 30 September 2010 10:30

Nicolas Cage (he of “Ghost Rider” and “Leaving Las Vegas” fame) delivers a powerful performance as Terrence McDonagh, a New Orleans cop who by all conventional logic would be considered a bad guy, but that doesn’t stop you actually rooting for him. Having bravely taken part in a rescue that has left him in permanent back pain, McDonagh is now a slave to the drugs, legal and otherwise, that treat his condition.

Eva Mendes, she of “Training Day” and “Hitch” is Frankie, a dysfunctional cocaine-snorting lady of the night, who has a soft spot for McDonagh – quite literally! With his illegal habits spiralling out of control, McDonagh finds that he has to team up with Big Fate, a local drug lord (Alvin ‘Xzibit’ Joiner, previously in “XXX2” and “Gridiron Gang”), as he moves further and further away from the line in the sand he once vowed to protect at all costs.

The Bad Lieutenant is released in the UK on Blu-ray and DVDBased on the format of a previous movie called “Bad Lieutenant” from 1992, that starred Harvey Keitel (and was written and directed by Abel Ferrara), the expletive count is through the roof, and even those of you not disturbed by such profanity will find yourself saying “enough, already” within ten minutes of the film beginning.

Luck is on McDonagh’s side following his injury – he keeps finding himself getting commendations and promotions, despite the facts of the matters suggesting that he may not actually deserve the breaks he finds lady luck pushing his way.  His ability to hang out with the ‘wrong kind’ at every turn could be argued to be his biggest failing – after all, if you associate with those on the wrong side of the law, it has to eventually rub off on you.

 “The Bad Lieutenant” also gives an enhanced cameo to Val Kilmer, one time “Batman” and “The Saint”, playing McDonagh’s partner Stevie Pruit. It’s not one of Val’s finest blocks of screen time, it has to be said; years ago he would have stolen the show with this opportunity, here it’s almost like he’s been told what his place in proceedings should be, which sees him trying to blend into the background whenever possible.

Jennifer Coolidge, on the other hand, famous for playing the dotty agent Bobbie Morganstern in the Friends spin-off Joey, turns up as McDonagh’s stepmother Genevieve.  She is more dowdy-dressed that has become her trademark, but commands her screentime with a measured potency.

The film is directed by the German, Werner Herzog, and this is his first major American movie (he has since also been behind “My Son My Son What Have Ye Done?”). The 68 year-old has been directing since 1962, moving between documentaries, TV movies and mini-series, as well as big-screen outings such as 1977’s “Aguirre: The Wrath of God”, 1979’s “Nosferatu The Vampire” and 1982’s “Fitzcarraldo”. With “The Bad Lieutenant”, his auteur signature comes through as it can easily be seen as a black comedy rather than simply a relentless misery-fest which it would be very easy to view it as.

I have to admit to being troubled by this movie.  If you take a format like the TV series Profit, you would find yourself routing for the central character, a dark villain, simply because those who he was creating havoc with firmly deserved their comeuppance.  With “The Bad Lieutenant”, there are certainly evil forces which McDonagh takes on who certainly deserve taking down.  That said, Jim Profit succeeding had you punching the air with joy, but McDonagh’s success can be viewed as quite depressing.  It almost boils down to McDonagh deserving to be where he is in the world.

This is the hub that is the saving grace for the movie – it makes you question the borders of good and evil; if the world is totally evil, then someone who is evil by circumstance rather than by design could possibly be forgiven.  That said, I tend to side with Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead when he said of politics: “Constantly choosing the lesser of two evils is still choosing evil.” This probably also applies to police lieutenants!

Special features include interviews with cast and production crew and a “Making of” featurette.

“The Bad Lieutenant – Port of Call New Orleans” is out now from Lionsgate Home Entertainment via Evolution Sales. It has an ‘18’ certificate and a run time of 122 minutes approx.  The Blu-ray has a RRP of £24.99, the DVD £17.99, or you can get either variant for less at



Last modified on Thursday, 10 May 2012 16:37

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