Bil’s rating (out of 5): BB. USA, 2009. Millennium Films, Edward R. Pressman Film, Saturn Films, Polsky Films, Osiris Productions, Lieutenant Productions. Screenplay by William M. Finkelstein, based on the film Bad Lieutenant by Victor Argo, Paul Calderon, Abel Ferrara, Zoë Lund. Cinematography by Peter Zeitlinger. Produced by Stephen Belafonte, Randall Emmett, Alan Polsky, Gabe Polsky, Edward R. Pressman, John Thompson. Music by Mark Isham. Production Design by Toby Corbett. Costume Design by Jill Newell. Film Editing by Joe Bini. Independent Spirit Awards 2009. Toronto International Film Festival 2009.
This free form remake of a recent film, which director Werner Herzog casually admits that he has never seen, should have been a hell of a lot crazier, particularly as Nicolas Cage gives one of his most unabashedly campy performances. He plays a tough New Orleans cop who becomes a drug addict following an accident during Hurricane Katrina that puts him in the way of painkilling medication. Years later he is working the streets of Sin City unto his own law, harassing young people on the street for drugs, enjoying a casually sexual and moderately protective relationship with a high-class prostitute (Eva Mendes) and getting himself into all sorts of trouble with gangsters and bookies. It sort of rambles on without much of a purpose, and thanks to the ridiculous performance at the lead, and an apparently uninterested director behind the camera, never justifies its long-winded plot by actually getting into the soul of the man. Then again, Ferrara’s original was a pretentious attempt to do just that and hardly managed to scratch the surface. Put this one up there with Gus Van Sant’s remake of Psycho, hilarious garbage that has to be seen to be believed.