Bad Lieutenant

"Excellent"

Bad Lieutenant Review


On radio station WFAN, a man named "Mad Dog" unwaveringly defends his beloved Mets, who are down three games against the Dodgers in the series, to a battalion of cynical and hopeless New Yorkers. Somewhere in Manhattan, a nun is raped by two young men and left soiled at the bottom of the altar. A cop who takes a bump of cocaine only seconds after he drops his boys off at high school is in charge of keeping the city safe and, at night, he spends the money he stole and violently cajoled from criminals on swigs of vodka, sessions of free-basing and lesbian shows at a seedy hotel. If the Lord is in New York City, he stepped out for a minute.

Such are the totems of the godless world of Abel Ferrara's Bad Lieutenant, a season in hell that doubles as a vehicle for Harvey Keitel's blistering tour-de-force as the nameless officer that gives the film its name. Full to bursting with unadulterated drug use, violent sex, and moral decay, it also serves as Ferrara's most unfettered and primal ode to a one-time soulless New York that now looks more like a planet of condos.

Made in 1992, the film centers on the investigation into the raped nun (Frankie Thorn), but it's fueled by the Lieutenant's hunger for coke, booze, women, and money at every turn. In one of his most startling acts, he demands a pair of teenagers to bare their asses and act like they are performing oral sex while he masturbates outside their car. He also makes time to shoot-up with a shut-in junkie, played by Zoë Lund, who co-wrote the script with Ferrara and cop-turned-actor Victor Argo.

Communicating his anguish through bouts of uncontrolled crying and guttural moans, and plagued by the image of a beefcake Jesus, the Lieutenant wanders the city for a score and, ultimately, redemption. A scene where he scores a rock from a clubber was shot in Limelife, a church converted into an orgy of S+M imagery and swirling neon lights. Nearing a meltdown, the Lieutenant must endure the Mets' miraculous upset at every turn, as it seems to be on every television and radio in New York.

Keitel's performance is perhaps the needed counterpoint to Christopher Walken's ice-cold overlord in Ferrara's visionary crime opus King of New York. Where King offered the resurrection as a stylized elimination of rival gangs and enemies in the NYPD (and a feral take on American imperialism), Lieutenant is a lean, throttling attempt at redemption in the eyes of an uncaring world. Physically imposing, Keitel is the fire in the film's belly, tumbling and slouching through dark hallways and red-light districts and, every once in awhile, flashing an infamous full-frontal for all to see.

The possibility of redemption lurks around every corner, whether it's the comeback of the Mets or the Lieutenant's daughter taking her first communion. Even the box of money he collects from a poor immigrant family, which he guards as if it were a fresh stash, has a cross on it. In Ferrara's New York, corruption is the given and forgiveness is an act of immense faith. Enraged and frustrated, the Lieutenant screams a sobbing confession to the imaginary Christ after the nun tells him that she seeks no revenge against the two crackheads who raped her. Salvation don't come easy in Bad Lieutenant and whether the Lieutenant is, as the song that closes the film suggests, pledging his love in his final act of forgiveness is a question of faith.



Bad Lieutenant

Facts and Figures

Genre: Thriller

Run time: 96 mins

In Theaters: Thursday 17th December 1992

Box Office Worldwide: $2M

Budget: $1000 thousand

Distributed by: Aries Films

Production compaines: Bad Lt. Productions

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 4 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 77%
Fresh: 30 Rotten: 9

IMDB: 7.1 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Producer: , Edward R. Pressman

Starring: as Lieutenant, as Beat Cop, Frankie Thorn as The Nun, Robin Burrows as Ariane, as Cop #1, Leonard L. Thomas as Cop #2, as Bowtay, as Jesus, Brian McElroy as Lieutenant's Son (#1), Frankie Acciarito as Lieutenant's Son (#2), as Lieutenant's Wife, as Lieutenant's Daughter, Dana Dee as Lieutenant's Baby Girl, Anthony Ruggiero as Lite, as J.C.

Also starring: ,

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

The Party Movie Review

The Party Movie Review

Comedies don't get much darker than this pitch-black British movie, written and directed by Sally...

The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) Movie Review

The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) Movie Review

Noah Baumbach (Frances Ha) is on his way to becoming the new Woody Allen, which...

6 Below Movie Review

6 Below Movie Review

Based on an astonishing true survival story, this film is subtitled "Miracle on the Mountain",...

Mother Movie Review

Mother Movie Review

Darren Aronofsky doesn't make fluffy movies, and has only had one genuine misfire (2014's Noah)....

Blade Runner 2049 Movie Review

Blade Runner 2049 Movie Review

It's been 35 years since Ridley Scott's 1982 sci-fi classic, which was set in 2019....

On the Road Movie Review

On the Road Movie Review

Wolf Alice fans are likely to be rather disappointed by this hybrid documentary-drama about the...

Borg/McEnroe Movie Review

Borg/McEnroe Movie Review

Skilfully made by Swedish filmmaker Janus Metz (the award-winning Armadillo), this film is essentially a...

Advertisement
The Glass Castle Movie Review

The Glass Castle Movie Review

There are quite a few terrific moments in this true story, based on the memoir...

Home Again Movie Review

Home Again Movie Review

Reese Witherspoon is so likeable that she can carry even the most hackneyed of romantic...

Brimstone Movie Review

Brimstone Movie Review

An unnerving Western with a sharp female perspective, this film is a series of gruesome...

Kingsman: The Golden Circle Movie Review

Kingsman: The Golden Circle Movie Review

Two years ago, Kingsman: The Secret Service seemed to come out of nowhere, ruffling feathers...

Goodbye Christopher Robin Movie Review

Goodbye Christopher Robin Movie Review

This biopic about Winnie the Pooh author A.A. Milne may look like the usual lushly...

Wind River Movie Review

Wind River Movie Review

After writing the superb Sicario and Hell or High Water, Taylor Sheridan moves back into...

The Vault Movie Review

The Vault Movie Review

Filmmakers Dan Bush and Conal Byrne attempt a mash-up of a frantic heist movie with...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.