Posts Tagged ‘Bad Lieutenant’

Reviews: Bad Lieutenant and Prince of Persia

May 28, 2010

Bad Lieutenant

Quirky, stylistic, funny, insane.

That’s what the myriad of reviewers think of Bad Lieutenant (Directed by Werner Herzog, starring Nicolas Cage, Eva Mendez).

Cop injures his back and turns to drugs to cope with the pain. Addiction spirals out of control and he abuses his power to get his fix. Ultimately everything works out for him.

When you can summarise a film so easily you know it’s not got much of a story to tell. Bad Lieutenant doesn’t try to be a story but a style.

Trouble is – I didn’t notice any style. Occasionally the camera zooms in on a reptile’s eye and a dead body dances, once. Apparently that’s the ‘drugs’, every now and again Cage will go all Castor Troy from Face/Off and shout a bit. Where reviewers have seen this as a descent into drug fuelled madness it basically comes across as a fairly toned down performance. If anything Cage is remarkably calm for a man heavily in debt, being investigated by IA and pursued by gangsters – oh, and addicted to heroin and in constant, agonising pain. This conservative showing keeps you off balance throughout – if it’s about dug fuelled excess – why is there so little? If it’s not about drug fuelled excess – why is there so much?

It’s open to conjecture whether we’re supposed to care about the characters or the story or just get lost in the style. Certainly we are given no reason to care whether the murder Cage is investigating gets resolved. When it ultimately is you struggle to remember what was even being investigated.

Cage gives a workmanlike performance – complete with ever changing accent. He’s not a likeable character and learns nothing throughout; actually he’s the one who doesn’t change. I found his performance far too understated.

All told Bad Lieutenant is played fairly straight up as a cliché tale of a bent cop – and why would anyone want to see that again?

(A generous) 4/10

Prince of Persia – The Sands of Time

Jerry Bruckheimer’s name doesn’t appear in the opening credits of Prince of Persia. Perhaps his infamous lightning strike graphic is all that’s required – maybe he’s too famous to need to be named.

Or maybe he didn’t want his name up there.

Prince of Persia would support either or both of those conclusions.

Yes, the man who produced everything from 80’s camp classic Top Gun to Pirates of the Caribbean, Pearl Harbour and those awful, awful Bad Boys films is back. Jerry has made a lot of money making a certain type of film – simple plot, big name lead, unconvincing love angle and SFX everywhere. Mr Bruckheimer has done more for the negative view of blockbusters than any man alive.

Jake Gyllenhaal plays the big name lead, Gemma Arterton the unconvincing love angle and director x provided the deluge of SFX. The formula doesn’t change.

A magic dagger can turn back time and evil Ben Kingsley is after it for some reason (does it matter?). Prince Daston must battle the Persian army to ensure – again, who cares? You know it will end with a couple in love, world saved and a glorious summers day. The dagger can reverse time – but this plot device is rarely used which is inexplicable because it could clearly have provided some excellent sequences. The highlight of the film is Ms Arterton’s midriff which is far more effective against men than the infamous Sands of Time!

All told this is a serviceable offering. Acting is solid throughout and Alfred Molina’s rebel leader is always amusing. Ben Kingsley plays…well, Ben Kingsley. If there is an actor more typecast please let me know. Mr Gylenhal’s attempt at an English accent isn’t poor – but it is bewildering (they are in Persia and no one else bothers with an accent…). Where the film really struggles is some horrendous CGI, it’s overused and of a very poor quality. Perhaps there were budget constraints, maybe it was rushed or maybe no one actually cared. Certainly the film suffers as a result.

The script is poor but the endless exposition seems more a homage to the computer game style than a genuine attempt to insult the audience. Most of what happens is suitably baffling that I for one was grateful for some explanation – but just how did the King cross his empire so quickly by camel? The film is littered with absurdities (sleeping in the middle of the desert? Tracking people’s footprints across a desert?) but this isn’t a film that cares about such things and just wants to see a guy jump about on buildings while brandishing swords.

Probably intended for a younger audience it’s about as average as a film can be.

5/10