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Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans

More of a re-interpretation than a remake, this version is not as good as the original but it still packs a worthwhile wallop.
Nicolas Cage and Eva Mendes in Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans.
Nicolas Cage and Eva Mendes in Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans.

What is it about Harvey Keitel that makes remakes of his films stupendous? After Jacques Audiard's The Beat That My Heart Skipped built upon James Toback's Fingers, Werner Herzog brings his own unique touch to Abel Ferrara's 1992 classic. But it's a mistake to think of this Nicolas Cage vehicle as a remake; it's more of a reinterpretation. The action has been moved from New York City to New Orleans and the guilt and search for redemption have been replaced by talking iguanas (yes!), narcissism and a search for Eva Mendes. The only similarity between the two films is that the principal detective is off his rocker. The Ferrara version is the better film. Nonetheless, Herzog has produced a more straightforward police genre flick containing fantastical side flourishes worthy of David Lynch as the German auteur proves once again that he is the best director in the world when it comes to telling a tale while winking at the audience. Thankfully, Herzog lets Cage run wild. After all, Cage is always at his best when playing slightly bemused and out-of-his depth (Raising Arizona, Wild at Heart and Face/Off) and with him as guide the plot was never going to be the movie's strong point. Other noteworthy turns include Val Kilmer as his corrupt partner, Mendes a love interest and Alvin "Xzibit" Joiner. The loony shenanigans are such an enjoyable riot that it doesn't matter that the narrative is a confused mess. Just watch out for the gators on the road.

Updated: January 14, 2010 04:00 AM

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