Bad Lieutenant (1992)

Genres - Drama  |   Sub-Genres - Crime Drama, Police Drama  |   Release Date - Nov 20, 1992 (USA)  |   Run Time - 96 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - NC17
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Review by Brendon Hanley

Bad Lieutenant is like a diseased '90s version of Mean Streets: same lead (Harvey Keitel), same city in turmoil (New York), same striking visual energy, same Catholic guilt. Of course, Abel Ferrara's movies have never had the same sense of humanity as Martin Scorsese's, and Bad Lieutenant is the ultimate extension of that comparison. The "bad" lieutenant is so lost in excess of every kind that he has become basically an anti-human. Ferrara has made a strange career of examining such bottom-feeders; his filmography includes such classic exploitation titles as Driller Killer, Ms. 45, and King of New York. What elevates Bad Lieutenant above the others is Keitel and his shockingly open, courageous -- some would say foolhardy -- performance. In 1992, Keitel was making quite a diverse career statement, starring in this movie, Reservoir Dogs, and...Sister Act. Ferrara's ability to build the tension surrounding the lieutenant is impressive, but none of it makes for pleasant viewing. It's a lurid, over-the-top cult film masquerading as an arthouse movie, and it's hard to imagine a motion picture that could polarize reactions more. At times, that reaction seems to be exactly Ferrara's idea. Bad Lieutenant has been issued in two versions -- one rated NC-17, and one rated R.