Bad Lieutenant Cover Now I thought that being a custodian of law enforcement, was meant to be an honorable career path? You know, like a Knight from Camelot, or a man of the cloth, or even a politician (no, forget that last one). Anyway, you know what I mean, right? No? Then I think that you best ask Director: Abel Ferrara; or Actor: Harvey Keitel. Preferably, in the year 1992, and only for 97-minute.

Bad Lieutenant

By day, the bad man (Harvey Keitel) is a father and a husband to his battle scorned family. However, for the rest of his time, he is a right b*stard.

He gambles – he drinks – he takes drugs – he has sex with prostitutes – and whilst doing his job as a Lieutenant in the NYPD, he uses his position of authority to fill his own pocket too.

Heck, twenty-four / seven, in a drug-addled haze he just meanders back and forth between his family and his work, pleasing himself in the only way he knows how - excess.

During this time, though, two scenarios manages’ to creep into the bad man’s life.

Now the first scenario is work related - because he is part of a team this is investigating the rape of a nun who does not want to testify against her known attackers - whilst the church offers a large reward for their capture.

The second scenario, however, is personal - because the bad man owes a large amount of money to ‘bad men’, due to gambling debts he has raised, related to him betting on many baseball matches.

So what does the bad man do about this? Is he going to glean the reward from the church for capturing the rapists? Like f*ck he is! Instead, he goes to a Mexican loan shark, and borrows more money to place a bet on another baseball game.

Does this work? Like fuck it does - he loses this other baseball game too - goading the bad man to go to the church, and plead to the nun for the names of her rapists for the reward.

But this doesn’t work either! Which is why what next transpires is a path filled with madness - desire - and redemption, one which the bad man follows towards enlightenment - forgiveness - and, BANG!

Now in my most humble opinion, I do not think that 'Bad Lieutenant' is an appropriate title for this film. I feel that it should have been called ‘F*cking B*stard Sh*t Faced Pig’.

Bad Lieutenant Poster
OK, so why do I say this? Well, because in this film, Harvey Keitel (or Kettle if I have my spell check on), plays a f*cking b*stard sh*t faced pig – simple as that really.

Honestly, Harvey plays this part so well, that his performance reminds me of another film that he was in - 'Mean Streets'. But not the part Harvey was playing though - ‘Charlie’ - oh no, rather, the Robert De Niro part of ‘Johnny Boy’.

You see, just like De Niro did, Harvey has that uncanny ability to literally become who he was supposed to be, and inhabit his character. Moreover, at times, the route that his character takes within this film, is so far removed from regular movie convention, that you forget that Harvey is actually playing a part - he's just that good.

Funnily enough, this bring me to a another peculiar point about this film – Harvey’s character is never named in it. Listen, I do not know why he is never named - as this 'oddity' does not seem to be a plot point within this movie. Though, maybe this has something to do with the inner character that Harvey is portraying? As if he has no inner-self - and is just like a wandering nomad with no place to go.

Bad Lieutenant With Gun

Please note, you have to realize that this is a character piece as well, and what the character does means more than the plot that he is wandering through. Harvey’s character is a bad man - and it is his path that this story evolves around, and not visa-versa. I found that this became more apparent as the film progressed, and it is truly is an unusual way of developing a film.

Bad Lieutenant Artwork
However, is 'Bad Lieutenant' a good film? Well - I liked it - but I have to say that it is for the acquired taste, for lovers of the studio method and self-destructive individuals everywhere.

Here, check out these facts I unearthed about this piece: (1) This film was made in 18 days. (2) The lead role was meant for Christopher Walken, and Baybi Day was supposed to play the female lead. (3) This film was voted one of the 25 most dangerous films by 'Premiere'. (4) The co-writer of this film, Zoe Lund, plays the woman who Harvey Keitel does drugs with. (5) On it's release, the BBFC insisted that 1 minute and 47 seconds of footage be cut - mainly from a drug taking scene. And (6) In 2008, when director, Abel Ferrara, found out that this film was going to be remade, he said that it was a horrible feeling, like he was being robbed. Also, that those involved should all die in hell, plus that screenwriter, William Finklestein, was an idiot.

Phew! Crazy stuff, huh? Just as crazy as this film - one that I am sure I will revisit again in the near future.

I would like to now leave you with one of my most favorite scenes from this movie - a somewhat perverse one - enjoy...


BAD LIEUTENANT BAD LIEUTENANT Reviewed by David Andrews on May 01, 2011 Rating: 5
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