What has happened to Nicolas Cage? The former edgy renegade has lost his footing. Nic used to be one of the most daring and intense actors working in Hollywood. He was an Oscar winning actor who made our jaws drop in Leaving Las Vegas and then an action star with megahits like The Rock and Con Air. It was like this guy was dipped in gold.
Then ole Nic hit a crossroads. It came somewhere in 2004 when he was filming the most bizarre and awful movie THE WEATHER MAN. Nic had just turned 40. He was pissing away money like there was no tomorrow. He had this special room made where he could sit and watch these two giant king cobras wrestling each other while he taunted them through the glass. Oh, it was also around then that Nic’s business manager forgot to pay Nic’s income tax. And to put an icing on the cake, his divorce to his beloved Lisa Marie Presley (the daughter of his idol), was finalized.
Nic the actor became crushed by Nic’s personal trainwreck. Because following up THE WEATHER MAN with an even worse movie (could be the worst movie of all time), WICKER MAN killed Nic’s credibility.
He became a joke even so that William Shatner impersonators were doing Nic Cage impressions instead.
He hasn’t recovered since 2004 and only now in this very loose remake/pseudo sequel, BAD LIEUTENANT: PORT OF CALL-NEW ORLEANS, have we started to see the real Nic Cage starting to come back. This is probably one of Nic’s best performances to date.
Nic plays Terrence McDonaugh, a recently promoted New Orleans police lieutenant who has a lifestyle that would make any cop quake in his boots. He is a drug addict, partially thanks to a lower back ailment. He is a womanizer and keeps his favorite whore (Eva Mendes) knee deep in cocaine. He is also a bully as he often shakes down normal citizens for drugs, money and sex. And finally he is a perpetual gambler who drives his hapless bookie (Brad Dourif) bonkers.
This is one multi-leveled and insane character but Nic brings an edge yet approachability to this character. You want this guy to get away with it. Why, because the guy is an idiot? Because it interesting to see how he is going to balance all these angles and keep his life on track. Trust me he finds a way and well it is brilliant.
Many people will think this is a remake of the 1992 film which featured probably the best performance Harvey Keitel has ever given. If anything it is a reimagining or a sequel. There are echoes of the 1992 film but only in the main character.
It’s like saying they are remaking Raiders of Lost Ark. The movie is called Lost Ark Raiders, it is set in 1995, the character is an archeologist named Joe Montana, and he carries a whip, wears a fedora and still hates snakes. Is that a remake or a sequel? No. But it is loosely inspired by. That is the same with this film.
The twists and turns, the antagonistic relationship he has with his partner (Val Kilmer) and his girlfriend (Mendes) are what make this movie memorable.
For two hours, you might just be able to shake the fact that Nic Cage also made WICKER MAN, KNOWING and NEXT.
4 out of 5
So Says the Soothsayer