Bad Lieutenant - Blu-ray Review

'in all this madness, Herzog somehow lost his way'

Apparently, Werner Herzog was branded 'certifiably mad' by the UK press whilst completing his publicity tour for Bad Lieutenant, a label to which he apparently took great offence. Whilst Herzog's ire may be entirely understandable (he is neither mad nor certifiably anything) this Nicholas Cage vehicle may not be the best film to offer as proof that the German is in full possession of all his faculties, featuring as it does a quite harshly focused look on the addictive and madcap personality of New Orleans detective Terence McDonagh (Cage).

If the madness in Bad Lieutenant stopped at Cage's character however, you might be on your way to a plausible defence. It doesn't though and by way of the much talked about iguana scenes, an excruciating encounter with a young couple in a car park and the fact that not one single character seems to be completely 'on the level', Bad Lieutenant oozes madness from it's very pores.

What this leads to is a problem for Herzog which he never fully reconciles. In all the madness, McDonagh is meant to be solving a crime which never feels like a proper mystery nor a convincing sub-plot. What's the story here then? Well, it must be a character study of Nicholas Cage's wandering Lieutenant, right? Wrong. Because this is also a much more general opus of addiction, with Eva Mendes, Jennifer Coolidge and Tom Bower all in on the act. With these three elements (police procedural, drug movie, character piece) all swimming round in a pipe-induced haze of Cage's shouting and Herzog's fascination with reptiles, Bad Lieutenant never settles on what type of a film it is and the tone and plot suffer as a result.

Cage is fine as McDonagh but his own constant tone shifts - from calm and insightful to impetuous and loud - don't help an audience to ease into following him and, although potentially accurate reflections of a drug-addled psyche, don't aid the piece. The internal contrasts in Cage's character suffice as a metaphor for how Bad Lieutenant plays out; one moment we're watching rapper Xzibit gunning down gangsters, whilst in another we're watching the potential recovery and reconciliation of the McDonagh family. It just doesn't fit together and one can't help but think that, in all this madness, Herzog somehow lost his way.

Look further...

'dangerously close to a Guy Ritchie-esque crime caper with 100% less Jason Statham and 100% more iguanas' - The Incredible Suit

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