I have a theory based upon the movie Adaptation, in which two writers, both supposedly played by Nicolas Cage using camera trickery and split screen techniques. One of the brothers was a little dumb and wrote mainstream pap, the other deeper and less successful.
See where I am going? Now look at Nic Cage the actor, by day a mild mannered easygoing ready to please guy, making profitable crap, by night a craftsman with finely tuned instincts and a willingness to push the boundaries for his art.
The bottom line: It wasn’t camera trickery. There are two Cage brothers! One, Nic, an overacting ham out for the cash, the other Nicolas, a thoughtful actor who cares about the films.
Rottentomatoes tells me that in the dubbos Cage churned out over 20 movies, plus he produced a few more and did voice work in several animated films, now that’s a lot of work for one guy. Over the same time frame Tom Cruise appeared in 12 films, Brad Pitt 13 and John Travolta 12. (By the way Cage has three more films due to be released in 2010 alone!)
Now let’s rethink Cage’s 20+. One guy who never turns down an offer? Or two guys?
Nic: Gone in 60 Seconds. Ghost Rider. National Treasure 1 & 2. The Wicker Man.
Nicolas: Adaptation. Lord of War. World Trade Center. Captain Corelli’s Mandolin.
Case closed. Thanks to Spike Jonze for having the balls to blow the roof off this myth!
OK, that’s over. Bad LT2, (a more concise and buzz-worthy title than the long winded real title by the way) is supposedly not a sequel, a remake or a reimagining of the original Bad Lieutenant by the way according to the director.
Well why not come up with a different title then numbnuts? Perhaps Naughty Cop or N’awlins Nastyman?
Or just cop to the fact that it really is a remake and let’s move on with our lives.
Nicolas is in full effect here, note the “olas”, although about half way through the film Nic swaps places to act in the increasingly nutso and hammy scenes as demanded by the script.
Best of both worlds really.
Nicolas Cage is Terrance McDonner, a local cop in post-Katrina New Orleans. He is hard working and award winning, if not always honest and honourable.
His partner is Stevie, played by a wasted Val Kilmer (wasted as in underused, not drugged, you’ll see why I need to differentiate shortly), and in the opening scenes Terrance shows poor judgment and does severe long term damage to his back. Fortunately the damage is manageable with drugs, but this proves a problem in itself.
Fast Forward to 6 months later >>>>>>>>>>
A family of immigrants is butchered in cold blood, men women and kids, and McDonner is sicced onto the case.
Meanwhile we also get to meet Eva Mendes as the wayyyy too hot to be:
– A hooker
– McDonner’s girlfriend
I don’t care how many drugs he pumps into her, any NBA of NFL star could provide those, there is no way a run down Nic Cage is scoring Eva Mendes. Where’s Chris Paul when you need him, he’s local?
Anyway her name is Frankie, and McDonner and Frankie share similar nasty habits, although I don’t think McDonner bones anyone for money, at least not in the film.
By this stage McDonner is hooked on whatever he can get, he eats/sleeps/ and breathes only a few things, (work, drugs, poon & gambling), and every fibre of his being is hellbent on getting him one of these things. Suffice to say there are a few early examples to show the audience that McDonner is not the most ethical cop on the beat.
Aside from all this McDonner appears to be an effective cop with good instincts and an eye for detail, who amazingly enough since he is zonked off his brain 100% of the time is very efficient in dealing with people and finding what he needs to know.
So shortly after he is set on the trail he discovers that a local small time hood named Big Fate is behind the massacre, so he sets the wheels in motion to work his way through Big Fate’s associates and lackeys in order to get to him.
Once Big Fate knows he is being hunted he methodically sets about killing off all the witnesses, aside from one young boy who McDonner tracks down and decides to personally look after.
As the film progresses towards the inevitable confrontations, McDonner becomes increasingly wired, and in danger from more and more sources. It seems that all of his vices and negative actions are all catching up with him at once, so he turns more and more to mind altering substances and extreme tactics to stay both awake and alive.
Like Nic and Nicolas, Bad Lieutenant is a movie in two halves, the first being basically a “Meet the Players” affair where everyone is introduced and we catch a glimpse of how nutso McDonner is and why. The second half simply gives him the licence and justification to enter full-on nutso mode and ham his way through the final 45 minutes.
So once Nicolas is replaced by the wide eyed and mugging for the camera Nic, the movie devolves into a series of bizarre coincidences and equally nonsensical amazing luck before everything is wrapped up in a neat little bow.
The original Bad Lieutenant from the early 90s had a desperate and pathetic Harvey Keitel as he spiraled further and further down into an unavoidably messy ending. Cage’s McDonner is more savvy and manipulative, and while Keitel seemed almost resigned to his fate McDonner keeps trying desperately to stay above water.
So to compare the two, this Lieutenant is not as depraved or lost as the original, whether that is Hollywood interference or just the way this story panned out I can’t say.
I will say that Bad LT2 is an OK film, nothing to write home about and really not that compelling, but more interesting at least that a thousand other churned out pap-pieces.
Final Rating – 7 / 10. Never less than interesting, but also never more than that, and just interesting isn’t enough.