Starring Nicolas Cage, Eva Mendes, Jennifer Coolidge, Val Kilmer, Brad Dourif, Xzibit, Fairuza Balk, Michael Shannon, Vondie Curtis Hall
Directed by Werner Herzog
Expectations: Low due to Nicolas Cage, but optimistic because of Werner Herzog.
Until now, I had not seen a Werner Herzog movie I didn’t enjoy. I unabashedly love his documentaries. His fiction films are less interesting, but so far I’ve seen enough to know that his work is usually engaging on some level and worth my time. This is not the case with Herzog’s latest, Bad Lieutenant. Nicolas Cage plays the same character he’s been playing for years, the washed up drug-addled fiend that can’t quite get his life together. Does he at least play it well? Not really, but I’ve never been a big fan. To his credit, the supporting cast is worse than he is, with an overweight, bored Val Kilmer at the top of the trash heap. Brad Dourif plays a bookie and has the distinction of being one of the few believable actors in the film.
Cage plays a drug addict cop that is slowly slipping over the edge into oblivion. He is surrounded by the rest of the clichéd corrupt cop genre characters; the call girl, the useless partner cop, the dealer, the woman with a baby at the door of the dealer’s house who let’s on where the dealer is hiding. You get the idea. Cage is investigating the murder of a family of immigrants from Senegal, but the story goes haphazardly between the mystery and Cage getting off in some way, be it sex or drugs or both. Herzog likes to deal with madness and obsession in his films, and Cage’s character has both in spades, but he doesn’t do anything to make it engaging. I love a good obsession film, but this was just boring. Cage really should hang it up at this point, or at least take a few years off. It would be unfair though to lay all the blame on the actors as Herzog seems to be as uninterested in the story as I was. I was hoping that the film might rise above the swampy filth it had been sulking in, but alas, the pull was too great. On a positive note, the film’s score by Mark Isham is pretty good in spots.
So yeah, I hated it. I do have an odd desire to re-watch it, though.
Really? I was looking forward to seeing this…. I’ve liked most of his films as well.
I’m also very very suspicious of his most recent flic ‘My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done’ which is soon to be released on netflix…
Yeah this one just didn’t work for me. A lot of people I know loved it though. It has a real strange vibe to it where its played seriously but there’s a lot of dark comedy that I felt didn’t quite work.
I’m also looking forward to the new one. I should have a review up whenever it comes out and I can get it from netflix. I do prefer his documentaries though.
I love Fitzcarraldo — my favorite of his films. I did enjoy ‘The Great Ecstasy of the Sculptor Steiner.’ Have you seen his documentary ‘How much Wood would a Woodchuck chuck…’ about the language of American auctioneers? I really want to… especially after that strange scene in Stroszek when the main character’s stuff is being auctioned off.
Haven’t seen Fitzcarraldo or Stroszek yet, but I have seen the Woodchuck doc. It’s boring, but it’s enchanting at the same time. The version I saw had the Herzog narration removed so I’m sure it would have been much better with it.
Well, then you can’t say you don’t like his feature films since those are BY far his best — well along with Aguirre, Wrath of God.. 😉
You are right, I haven’t really seen enough of his features. So far I prefer the docs, but I look forward to watching some of his best movies.
I would start with Aguirre or Fitzcarraldo. He also made a documentary about making his film Fitzcarraldo…. (or, he might have had someone else make that documentary — hmm, I don’t remember).