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Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans (8/10)

by Tony Medley

Run time 121 minutes.

Not for children.

Nicolas Cage has been in a lot of horrible movies (even if they did well at the box office), things like the “National Treasures” monstrosities and “The Wicker Man,” and Oliver Stone’s horror “World Trade Center.” But he breaks out here, playing a rogue detective full of faults. In fact, Terence McDonagh (Cage) doesn’t have any visible virtues throughout almost the entire movie.

His girlfriend, Frankie Donnenfield (Eva Mendes), is a high end prostitute. But she’s got a heart of gold. Ever seen that before in the movies? Hackneyed as the character is, Mendes continues to improve with another outstanding performance.

Terence is a drug addict (becoming addicted because of his bad back), a thief, and a liar, and these just scratch the surface. Every time Nicolas is on screen, he walks in a way that lets you know he is in constant pain with his back. This is a masterful performance by Cage, that should put him in contention for an Oscar® nomination at the least.

I’ve not been a fan of Werner Herzog since his dishonest production of 2005’s “Grizzly Man.” Here, however, he does a masterful job. This is a high tension, fast-paced film about an extremely unsympathetic character.

However, Herzog apparently views this as a new style of film noir. In classic film noir, however, the good guy is good and he’s always done in by a bad dame, and the ending is dark. The only thing that this film has in common with film noir is that it’s kind of a downer. Bad things seem to be happening to the protagonist. Here the good guy isn’t good and the dame isn’t bad, and Herzog completely wimps out with a Hollywood ending. The best modern film I’ve seen that was a good reflection of the real film noir from the ‘40s was Lawrence Kasden’s 1981 classic, “Body Heat,” where the dame was bad and the guy was good and it was so hot it made you sweat just to sit there and watch it.

Even if it’s not classic noir, though, this is entertaining.