Bad Lieutenant (2009)

“Cleverly Styled But Really Strange” 5/10


As the title suggests, this is an unconventional film about an unconventional police lieutenant, and it’s quite hard to pin down an opinion on it because it is unlike anything I have ever seen in terms of style and story.

Having seen several Nicholas Cage films, I was fully expecting to see him play his typical worldly-wise middle aged man role despite having read the synopsis (think the National Treasure [2004; 2007] and Knowing [2009]). I was surprised to see him play a completely different character and it was oddly refreshing to see him break away from his typecast. Cage is completely believable as an erratic drug addict, his odd behaviour and strange visions of iguanas (when you see the film, you’ll understand) strangely draw you in to his rough, “trippy” world. The film often loses you, at points it is hard to understand how the current scene links to the previous, but that is all part of the effect. Even the supporting characters are fuzzy and it’s hard to work out who is taking drugs and who isn’t. The story makes sense but doesn’t necessarily follow a typical linear structure; it’s slow but you never feel like there’s something that doesn’t matter to the overall storyline. It manages to project Cage’s character’s decline onto every other aspect of the film in such a way that you don’t really notice until the very end. It’s downright bizarre.

It’s difficult to put your finger on whether or not this film is enjoyable, and the reasons why. If nothing else, the story is cleverly presented to perfectly depict the decline caused by addiction, and leaves you feeling fuzzy-headed yourself. A strange viewing that very much keeps you thinking once it has finished.


2 thoughts on “Bad Lieutenant (2009)

  1. Hi Claire, are you aware that this is a remake? There is a far better original version, made in 1992, starring Harvey Keitel. It is equally shocking and portrays a degenerate cop, consumed by corruption and vices. It is hard to watch at times but I think it is much better than the Cage remake though.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    • Hi, I didn’t know that actually, I just watched this on recommendation from someone else. I’d be interested to see the original, I’ll be sure to check it out and see how it compares! Thanks!

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