Nicolas Cage and Eva Mendes star in THE BAD LIEUTENANT: PORT OF CALL – NEW ORLEANS, directed by Werner Herzog for First Look Pictures.

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

At some point during this response, I’m going to say nice things about Eva Mendes. Just a warning.

I used to hate on CG, starting in around 1996 and ending about six years later, when I just gave up caring. It wasn’t ever going to stop and it had gotten to a point where there was good CG (Star Trek is a fine example). I rail against digital video a lot too. I think it’s now, with Port of Call New Orleans, gotten to the point where I need to give up that fight too.

It’s an ugly looking film. It looks cheap, it looks amateurish. There’s absolutely nothing scenic to its setting, nothing picturesque. It’s not even visually horrific in the way other post-Katrina stories are done. It’s simply disinterested.

It’s also brilliant. Herzog’s made maybe the finest American cop movie a German’s ever made, but I’m sure having William Finkelstein (veteran of many a fine cop show) write it helps. Nicolas Cage turns in an amazing performance, an irredeemable bad guy surrounded by worse guys, and shows why he’s such a waste most of the time.

It’s a shame he doesn’t get these good of scripts more often.

The supporting cast is excellent, particularly Val Kilmer and Mendes. Kilmer isn’t in it much but he’s great when he is present, but Mendes is always around. The quality of her performance’s shocking. Brad Dourif’s great. Xzibit and Jennifer Coolidge too. Not enough Fairuza Balk though.

It’s amazing stuff.

3.5/4★★★½

CREDITS

Directed by Werner Herzog; screenplay by William M. Finkelstein, based on a film written by Victor Argo, Paul Calderon, Abel Ferrera and Zoë Lund; director of photography, Peter Zeitlinger; edited by Joe Bini; music by Mark Isham; production designer, Toby Corbett; produced by Stephen Belafonte, Nicolas Cage, Randall Emmett, Alan Polsky, Gabe Polsky, Edward R. Pressman and John Thompson; released by First Look Pictures.

Starring Nicolas Cage (Terence McDonagh), Val Kilmer (Stevie Pruit), Eva Mendes (Frankie Donnenfeld), Jennifer Coolidge (Genevieve), Fairuza Balk (Heidi), Brad Dourif (Ned Schoenholtz), Michael Shannon (Mundt), Shawn Hatosy (Armand Benoit), Denzel Whitaker (Daryl), Shea Whigham (Justin), Xzibit (Big Fate), Katie Chonacas (Tina), Tom Bower (Pat McDonough), Irma P. Hall (Binnie Rogers) and Vondie Curtis-Hall (James Brasser).


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