Opening 25 Feb 2010
Writing credits: William M. Finkelstein, Victor Argo, Paul Calderon, Abel Ferrara, Zoë Lund
Principal actors: Nicolas Cage, Val Kilmer, Eva Mendes, Fairuza Balk, Jennifer Coolidge
Nicolas Cage delivers an Oscar-worthy performance as the troubled hero in Werner Herzog’s dark crime thriller, which also faithfully captures the atmosphere of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. William M Finkelstein has re-written the screenplay based on an earlier film written by Victor Argo. It also stars Val Kilmer and Eva Mendes. (Christa Greiff)
Whatever possessed director Werner Herzog to remake The Bad Lieutenant is anyone’s guess. Relocating to “The Big Easy” adds nothing to the story, and Spike Lee’s documentary When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts better shows New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.
Nicolas Cage’s (as Terence McDonagh) mindless ranting and screeching is a stark contrast to Harvey Keitel’s (in the original version) quiet, courageous character probe of a man sliding into a hellish abyss of his own addictions-induced creation. Keitel’s portrayal challenges us to (perhaps warily) want to care what happens to him, whereas Cage made me just want to shut-him-the-hell-up. If you want, and have stomach for the viscerally graphic experience of walking a gritty thin line of a corrupt police detective, watch director Abel Ferrara’s 1992 original version (simply, Bad Lieutenant, ****); it would be time much better spent. (Marinell Haegelin)