Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans

Year: 2009
Production Co: Millennium Films
Director: Werner Herzog
Writer: William Finkelstein
Cast: Nicolas Cage, Val Kilmer, Eva Mendes, Alvin 'Xzibit' Joiner, Fairuza Balk, Shawn Hatosy, Jennifer Coolidge, Irma P Hall

Abel Ferrara's infamous rant about how this film has nothing to do with his grimy 1992 drama should have put any doubts to rest about whether it would be similar, but with Werner Herzog behind the lens it was going to be just as distinctive, maybe more so.

But Herzog keeps himself at arms length most of the time, crafting a fairly straight thriller albeit with an anti-hero. He only breaks out during one or two bizarre reptile-cam sequences that have no apparent relevance to the plot apart from injecting some indie kudos.

It's post Katrina New Orleans, and two smarmy detectives return to a flooded police station to find an inmate still in a cell with the water rising rapidly. One is McDonough (Cage, on better form than he's been recently), who jumps into the water to save the guy and does his back serious damage in the process.

It would be easy to give McDonough a noble reason to end up a drug addict by making him dependent on his prescribed treatment, but he also snorts coke, has a relationship with a hooker (Mendes) and finds himself in deep with mobsters because of gambling debts.

As he tries to investigate the murder of a family of immigrant drug runners he sees a way to get out from hock by cutting a deal with a drug kingpin and things turn deadly.

There's no moral and no redemption. McDonough is a criminal and a creep who you almost find yourself liking until he harasses another innocent young couple coming out of a club or holds a gun to a frail old lady's head.

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