"Was very much looking forward to this and was painfully disappointed. Couldn’t see the “juggernaut plot” as TH put it. Instead, I did witness a digressive, stumbling mish mash of incoherence in place of a plot. Now there’s nothing wrong with incoherence in a plot but you need some kind of internal logic at work, as in, well Abel Ferrara’s original Bad Lieutenant (ferociously fuelled by his trash aesthetic and guilt wracked Catholocism)
Instead Herzog’s film exists on the surface, all quirk and tics, but hollow inside. Every conversation and confrontation- familial, sexual and criminal- has huge dynamic potential, but the dramatic spark is curiously absent, as if this wasn’t an actual cop thriller but a strange alien simulacrum of one- a proper movie in name but filmed by someone whose never been behind a camera before. Take the opening scene with it’s extraordinary premise : a basement holding cell floods in the aftermath of Katrina, the polluted snake filled water inexorably rises which will eventually drown a lone prisoner locked behind bars. Two cops debate whether to dive in and save his life. One hell of an opening you’d think. But the whole thing is dramatically inert, entirely unconvincing and without a pulse. I’ll throw in that most unsubtle of insults: it looked like a TV movie
In the movie’s defense I’ll say this: there’s some standout moments which hint at the surreal hysteria that perhaps Herzog was trying to reach: the celebrated Lynchian alligator accident scene and the hilarious gun toting confrontation with the old ladies. And one last thing, Cage’s performance really is very very good. David Lynch (I think) once said he was the “jazz musician of actors”. Well if his best previous work was be-bop, than Bad Lieutenant is Nic Cage’s ‘Bitches Brew’: wildly uncompromising, delirious and electric."