Nicolas Cage has been going through a bit of an acting renaissance, as the man has exploded back into popularity in a big way. He has appeared in audience-lauded films like Mandy, Pig, and The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent. However, long before he was making odd straight-to-DVD films, he was still a bit of a superstar. However, one of his weirder choices was leading the spiritual successor to the 1972 hit film, Bad Lieutenant, Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans. Although it had been indicated not to be a sequel or reboot, it was still considered a copy of sorts. The film is currently streaming on Freevee.
Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans was surprisingly loved by most critics. The film currently holds a “certified fresh” rating of 86% on Rotten Tomatoes. The audience rating is much poorer at 57%. It could be because of the cast that was attached to the film. Apart from Nicolas Cage, Eva Mendes, and Val Kilmer were part of this ensemble cast. It was also directed by Werner Herzog, who is just as prolific of an actor as he is a director. He famously directed films like Invincible and Rescue Dawn. Fans might recognize him as The Client in The Mandalorian. He was part of the Empire collective who was obsessed with obtaining Grogu. Despite the accolades from the critics, the film made $10 million in box office numbers against a budget of $25 million.
Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans follows Terence McDonagh (Nicolas Cage), a New Orleans police sergeant. He is in the middle of the tragedy of Hurricane Katrina when he notices that a prisoner has not been transferred. He finds the prisoner about to drown while mocking that fact. McDonagh then jumps in to save the prisoner, resulting in a substantial injury to his back. However, through his backward heroics, he is promoted to lieutenant. Six months after the accident, he is addicted to Vicodin, among many other substances. His prostitute girlfriend Frankie Donnenfeld (Eva Mendes) also inhibits him by getting McDonagh other drugs like cocaine and cannabis. McDonagh also uses a former co-worker at another police station named Hedi (Fairuza Balk) to help him get drugs from the evidence room at the station. McDonagh gets into trouble with bookies and gangsters, as he uses anyone in his path to secure more money and drugs. Without ruining what happens in the rest of the film, fans can go watch it on Freevee right now.
Despite what Werner Herzog stated about the film, Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans seemed to have the makings of a reimagining at least. The film does come up as Bad Lieutenant 2 in Google as well, which doesn’t help its case. Werner Herzog is a respected director and actor, so there were plenty of people that believed him when he claimed that the film was not attempting to copy the Harvey Keitel-lead feature that was released in 1992. One of the people who did not believe Herzog was the director of the 1992 Bad Lieutenant film, Abel Ferrara. Ferrara went so far as to say, “As far as remakes go, … I wish these people die in Hell. I hope they’re all in the same streetcar, and it blows up.” This was in response to the film being announced. The men exchanged words back and forth through the press, up until 2018 when Ferrara stated that he met Herzog finally, and they made peace with one another.
Despite the film being bridled with controversy for its not-so-subtle copied title of the original film in 1992, Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans was a successful Nicolas Cage film. Again, the cast that joined him more than made up for the blunder of it being a spiritual successor but not being called as such. Eva Mendes, Val Kilmer, Jennifer Coolidge, Brad Dourif, Michael Shannon, and many more were part of this large cast that allowed this film to surprise many who were loyalists to the original 1992 film.
Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans is on Freevee right now, and fans can see Nicolas Cage play the rare villain-type character. He may not be as bombastic as Castor Troy in Face/Off, but he still plays a great part in this film. Check the film out if you happen to be a fan of the 1992 Bad Lieutenant film. You may see they are not as similar as people initially believed.