In this examiner's latest review, I tore Nicolas Cage apart for his unpredictability and the slew of bad films he's done as of late. However, his off-the-rails performance in Bad Lieutenant almost makes up for the last few bad years. This film is the best film based on a crooked cop since Training Day, and the only large difference between the two films is that Denzel Washington and Training Day got recognized by the Academy, and this one went far under the radar. Let me tell you, this deserves the spotlight this year, because it truly is one of the best of 2009.
The film revolves around New Orleans cop Terence McDonagh (Cage), who is promoted to lieutenant after sustaining a back injury rescuing a prisoner in a flooded holding floor of a police station. He begins taking painkillers for his back, and becomes addicted, all the while continually fueling his cocaine habit and gambling addiction. The film chronicles McDonagh's struggles to uphold the law when he can't even obey it himself, and we watch the lieutenant spiral around on the highs and lows addiction provides.
Cage is high-strung and hasn't been seen in a role so volatile and whacky since 1997's Face/Off. He is truly at the top of his game here, and if the film had gotten more press, an Academy Award nomination should have been merited. In addition to Cage, Val Kilmer and Eva Mendes give fantastic performances. Even Xzibit shows he has some acting chops in a rather sizable role.
Overall, Bad Lieutenant is a film that should be seen by most. This will especially appeal to Nicolas Cage fans, who should know he hasn't had a truly great role in quite some time. Even if you hate him, see the film because you'll be surprised at just how good he is. It's amazing how a film like this can fly so far under everyone's radar, and I'm telling all you readers that it should definitely be on yours. See it anywhere and any way you can. You won't be disappointed.