Bad Lieutenant (Blu-Ray)
It should be noted this film does have some critical acclaim to it, however I am not on that bandwagon. With a NC-17 rating, BAD LIEUTENANT is crude and shocking for the sake of being crude and shocking. It pretends to have a story, theme and message by using the last fifteen minutes for a confusing character arc but comes off more pretentious than thought provoking.
Harvey Keitel is a police detective otherwise known as the Bad Lieutenant. He spends the entire film being a corrupt officer using a variety of drugs, buying prostitutes, exposing himself to young girls and gambling on baseball games all while barely investigating a nun’s rape. His reasoning for that last action is to hopefully get a reward to pay off his gambling debt.
I’m not someone who is offended by horrific brutal imagery and story lines. This is a part of life and if shown properly can be quite effective in film. But there definitely needs to be a story, reason, a more believable arc for the character, redemption and the list goes on for at least one of these items. I criticize these points because the film purposefully attempts to achieve those elements but falls completely short.
I will admit that I was captivated by what was going to happen next. Like a terrible train wreck that you morbidly can’t look away from. Unfortunately the pay off of an actual story line never happened. I kept thinking, this can’t be it. There has to be some redeeming quality. No one would make a movie about a horrible guy doing horrible things, drinking and crying and that be it. It did pose one interesting question and had a hint of some great ideas and themes that in other hands could be dealt with successfully. However, BAD LIEUTENANT cheapens it by going for the shock value the entire film throwing in random edits of disturbing religious imagry then quickly wraps up the confusing redemption in the last fifteen minutes.
The acting was phenomenal. Keitel is simply amazing in this role and some of the scenes were memorably shocking and frighteningly real but without any substance or redemption it’s just a waste. I’m sorry if I sound like a broken record but I can’t help talking about the redemption the film is supposedly attempting to achieve and completely not seeing it. I believe in the end the character thought he tried but it was so misguided that the final resolution was absurd in its reason. Maybe a character so corrupt is so far removed from what is good that he can’t help but do wrong when trying to do right. Bottom line it was unclear and poorly conceived. It’s not good enough.
The film did stick with me but in an upsetting dirty way that made me feel angry and filthy for it’s pointless shock rather than impressed. Many scenes were well executed in its extreme graphic nature but again with no purpose.
Video: (1080P HD 16×9 Widescreen 1.78:1) It’s meant to be a very dark film so nothing really pops out on the picture and the colors look muted. Some of the filming is out of focus but the picture is clear.
Audio: (DTS-HD MA) The sound isn’t the best dating the movie older than what it actually is.
Audio Commentary with Director Abel Ferrara and Director of Photography Ken Kelsh: They don’t offer much insight but laugh and joke at some of the disturbing moments.
It All Happens Here: Retrospective Documentary (34:01): An in depth look at the entire process of the film full of interviews from the cast and crew. It is divided into three separate segments pre production, production and post-production. This really captures what went into the film from beginning to end. I highly recommend this feature for any fans of the film.