Martelle Futch

Written by Martelle Futch

Modified & Updated: 28 May 2024

Jessica Corbett

Reviewed by Jessica Corbett


Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans is a gritty and intense crime drama directed by Werner Herzog, released in 2009. The film follows the story of Terence McDonagh, a corrupt and drug-addicted detective portrayed by Nicolas Cage, as he navigates the criminal underworld of New Orleans.

Set against the backdrop of the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans delves into themes of morality, corruption, and redemption. It explores the depths to which a man can fall and the consequences he must face for his actions.

In this article, we will take a deep dive into the movie, uncovering 44 fascinating facts about Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans. From behind-the-scenes trivia to the film’s impact on the careers of its cast and crew, prepare to unravel the mysteries and secrets of this unforgettable crime masterpiece.

Key Takeaways:

  • “Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans” offers a unique and intense take on crime and corruption, with captivating performances and a visually stunning portrayal of New Orleans.
  • Nicholas Cage’s powerful performance, combined with Werner Herzog’s distinctive direction, creates an engrossing cinematic experience that explores morality, redemption, and the human psyche.
Table of Contents

Unique Take on the Original

Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans is not a traditional sequel to the original Bad Lieutenant film, directed by Abel Ferrara. Instead, it takes a unique approach with a different storyline and characters.

Directed by Werner Herzog

The movie is directed by acclaimed German filmmaker Werner Herzog, known for his distinct visual style and unconventional storytelling.

Nicholas Cage’s Intense Performance

Nicholas Cage delivers a powerful and intense performance as the titular character, portraying a corrupt cop who is battling his own demons.

Set in New Orleans

The movie is set against the backdrop of New Orleans, capturing the city’s vibrant and gritty atmosphere, which adds to the overall atmosphere of the film.

A Dark and Twisted Tale

Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans explores the dark and twisted world of crime, addiction, and corruption, providing a captivating and morally ambiguous narrative.

Collaboration with Cage and Herzog

This film marks the first collaboration between Nicholas Cage and Werner Herzog, resulting in a unique and memorable cinematic experience.

Inspired by Real Events

The movie takes inspiration from real events and stories of corrupt cops, adding a sense of realism to its narrative.

Critical Acclaim

Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans received critical acclaim for its compelling storyline, exceptional performances, and Herzog’s direction.

Eva Mendes as Frankie

Eva Mendes portrays Frankie, a love interest for the protagonist, who becomes entangled in his world of crime and corruption.

Music by Mark Isham

The film features an atmospheric and haunting score composed by Mark Isham, which enhances the overall tone and mood of the movie.

Notable Supporting Cast

Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans boasts a talented supporting cast, including Val Kilmer, Brad Dourif, and Fairuza Balk, who deliver compelling performances.

Unpredictable Plot Twists

The movie keeps viewers on the edge of their seats with its unpredictable plot twists and turns, making it a suspenseful and engaging watch.

Dark Humor

Despite its dark and serious themes, Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans incorporates moments of dark humor, adding an additional layer to the storytelling.

Distinctive Visual Style

Werner Herzog’s signature visual style is evident throughout the film, utilizing unique and unconventional camera angles to enhance the overall cinematic experience.

Strong Character Development

The movie explores the complex psychology of its characters, providing in-depth character development that adds depth and complexity to the narrative.

Showcasing New Orleans Culture

Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans showcases the rich culture and traditions of New Orleans, highlighting aspects like its music, cuisine, and unique lifestyle.

R-rated for Intense Content

The film carries an R-rating due to its intense content, including violence, drug use, and explicit language, making it suitable for mature audiences.

Not a Typical Police Procedural

Unlike traditional police procedural films, Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans delves into the psychology of the protagonist, exploring his internal struggles and motivations.

Cannes Film Festival Premiere

The movie premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in 2009, receiving praise from critics and audiences for its unique storytelling and captivating performances.

Limited Box Office Success

Although critically acclaimed, the film didn’t achieve significant box office success, but it has gained a cult following over the years.

Depiction of Drug Addiction

The movie provides a raw and realistic portrayal of drug addiction, showcasing the destructive nature of substance abuse.

Visual Symbolism

Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans incorporates visual symbolism throughout the film, adding depth and layers of meaning to certain scenes and sequences.

Exploration of Morality

The film raises thought-provoking questions about morality and the blurred lines between right and wrong, challenging traditional notions of justice.

Influenced by Film Noir

Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans pays homage to the film noir genre, with its dark tone, morally ambiguous characters, and atmospheric cinematography.

Dynamic Sound Design

The movie’s sound design creates a dynamic and immersive experience, adding tension and enhancing the overall cinematic impact.

Unforgettable Scenes

Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans features several unforgettable scenes that leave a lasting impression on viewers, showcasing the talent of both the cast and the director.

Notable Cinematography

The film’s cinematography, helmed by Peter Zeitlinger, captures the essence of New Orleans, utilizing both natural and artificial lighting to create a visually stunning experience.

Exploration of Power Dynamics

The movie delves into the complex nature of power dynamics, portraying how those in positions of authority can abuse their power for personal gain.

A Study of Redemption

Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans delves into the theme of redemption, exploring whether the protagonist can find redemption for his past sins.

Remake vs. Reimagining

Unlike traditional remakes, this film serves as a reimagining of the original Bad Lieutenant, taking inspiration from its premise but crafting its own unique narrative.

Psychological Thriller Elements

The movie incorporates elements of psychological thriller, keeping viewers engaged as they navigate the protagonist’s unraveling mental state.

Bold and Uncompromising

Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans takes bold narrative choices and doesn’t shy away from portraying the darkest aspects of its characters and their actions.

Examination of Corruption

The film provides a searing examination of corruption within the justice system, highlighting how the pursuit of power can lead to moral and ethical compromise.

Nicholas Cage’s Improvisation

Cage brings his unique brand of improvisation to the role, adding spontaneity and unpredictability to the character of the bad lieutenant.

Cult Classic Status

Over the years, Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans has earned a cult classic status among cinephiles who appreciate its bold storytelling and standout performances.

Exploration of Addiction

The movie delves into the theme of addiction, showcasing how substance abuse can control and consume individuals, leading them down a destructive path.

Allusive Religious Imagery

Throughout the film, there are allusions to religious imagery, further reinforcing the exploration of morality and redemption.

A Different “Bad Lieutenant”

While the original Bad Lieutenant film focused on a corrupt New York City police officer played by Harvey Keitel, this film presents a unique take on the character in a different setting.

Controversial Elements

The movie contains controversial elements, pushing boundaries and challenging societal norms, which adds to its appeal and impact.

Societal and Political Commentary

Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans offers subtle societal and political commentary, highlighting underlying issues within the justice system and society as a whole.

Cannes Best Actor Award

Nicholas Cage’s performance in the film garnered critical acclaim and earned him the Best Actor award at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival.

Immersive Atmospheric Setting

The film immerses viewers in the atmospheric setting of New Orleans, capturing its vibrant streets, unique architecture, and rich cultural heritage.

Exploration of the Human Psyche

Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans delves deep into the human psyche, examining the inner demons and psychological struggles that drive its characters.

An Engrossing Cinematic Experience

With its unique storyline, captivating performances, and distinctive visual style, Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans offers an engrossing cinematic experience that leaves a lasting impact on its viewers.


In conclusion, the movie “Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans” is a riveting and intense crime drama that captivates audiences with its gripping storyline, powerful performances, and stunning cinematography. Director Werner Herzog masterfully creates a dark and gritty atmosphere that perfectly complements the complex character of Lieutenant Terence McDonagh, portrayed brilliantly by Nicolas Cage. The film explores themes of corruption, morality, and redemption, leaving viewers on the edge of their seats throughout. With its unique blend of crime thriller and art-house sensibilities, “Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans” is a must-watch for both fans of the genre and devotees of thought-provoking cinema.


Q: Who directed the movie “Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans”?

A: The movie was directed by acclaimed filmmaker Werner Herzog.

Q: Is “Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans” a sequel to the original “Bad Lieutenant” film?

A: Although the movie shares a similar title, “Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans” is not a direct sequel to the original “Bad Lieutenant” film directed by Abel Ferrara. It is considered a standalone film with a different storyline and characters.

Q: What is the main plot of the movie?

A: The movie follows the story of corrupt and drug-addicted detective Terence McDonagh as he investigates the brutal murder of five Senegalese immigrants in post-Hurricane Katrina New Orleans. As the investigation progresses, McDonagh’s personal demons and moral choices come to the forefront, leading to a harrowing and suspenseful climax.

Q: What makes the performance of Nicolas Cage stand out in this movie?

A: Nicolas Cage delivers a mesmerizing performance as Lieutenant Terence McDonagh, fully immersing himself in the character’s complexities. His portrayal captures the essence of a deeply flawed yet compelling individual, combining intensity, vulnerability, and dark humor. Cage’s performance has been widely praised for its depth and unpredictability.

Q: Is “Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans” a true story?

A: While the movie is based on the 1992 film “Bad Lieutenant” by Abel Ferrara, “Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans” is a fictional story and not based on real events.

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