Seven-Sentence Reviews, by Joel Copling: THE BAD LIEUTENANT – PORT OF CALL: NEW ORLEANS (2009)

Werner Herzog’s The Bad Lieutenant – Port of Call: New Orleans hits like a bat out of hell. This is the physical ideation of complete madness, weaving a tale that surprises and delights even in the particulars. Nicolas Cage, in one of his great performances, stars as Terrence McDonagh, a coke-addicted police sergeant in New Orleans who injures his back after a pitiful play of weaselly chivalry toward an inmate in his prison. Soon, though, he’s on the case of a murdered family of African immigrants who seem to have met the wrong end of a drug deal gone horribly awry. There is only one witness, and the film observes, seemingly out of the tunnel of a drug haze, McDonagh’s morally and psychologically bankrupt method of solving the case. The supporting cast is deep, from Val Kilmer as McDonagh’s brutal partner, Xzibit as their chief person of interest, Eva Mendes as a hooker with a heart of gold, Brad Dourif as a bookie owed his due, and Michael Shannon in a small role as McDonagh’s aide in acquiring items of a particular kind of illegality. William M. Finklestein’s screenplay exists at a strange four-way intersection of comedy, tragedy, absurdity, and inconsequentiality, and all of its lurid excess is disarming.



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