The above paragraph is a fairly accurate summation of the plot of The Bad Lieutenant, but it doesn’t begin to describe the movie. This remake in name only of Abel Ferrara’s 1992 film takes what could have been a fairly pedestrian crime and sleaze storyline and turns it into a twisted black comedy that gives Nicholas Cage his best role in years. The film is directed by Werner Herzog, surely among the best living directors still making films. Unlike
This is a very funny film, and one that is constantly blurring the line between “funny strange” and “funny ha-ha”. As for the story, most of the threads do get wrapped up, but in such an arbitrary (and funny) way that it’s clear Herzog isn’t interested in anything resembling a traditional plot resolution. Is Bad Lieutenant a masterpiece on the same level as other Herzog films like Fitzcaraldo or Aguirre The Wrath of God? I’m inclined to say no, but that doesn’t change the fact that I was never less than mesmerized by the film.