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We follow the Investigation of the murder of an immigrant family in New Orleans by Lieutenant McDonagh. He steals dope, threatens suspects, harasses girls and is altogether not a very nice guy.
It needs to be said: the Werner Herzog as grand auteur phenomenon is as inexplicable as the reputation of the Germans for continuously eating pork knuckles. Both has been witnessed, but both is far from granted in any given moment. Especially after his documentary-driven US renaissance, Herzog has become a creator of extremely self-confident movie burlesques. Those are sometimes professionally done, sometimes just with the wide-eyed naivete of a film student who is allowed to take his camera on the first trip to New Orleans. In the midst of a sometimes straightforward cop thriller, you find here surreal scenes involving alligators and lizards, break-dancing spirits of gangsters just shot, and a Nicholas Cage whose over-the-top performance would in other contexts have cause reprimands by the director, while here I am sure it only caused wide eyes and a fascinated “I think that was a very good performance, you are crazy” exclamation with a Bavarian accent. Is this a new congenial symbiosis like the Werner Herzog – Klaus Kinski axis of yonder times? Absolutely not, because Cage, with all due respect, does not have the seriousness a Kinski had – Cage is acting crazy, and is not too good at it. Especially when breaking into hysterical laughs towards the end of the movie, it is slightly embarrassing to watch him let loose. A more serious and controlled director would been able to put of control fences and guide the actor towards a hysterical and rotten and impressive and mad and aggressive performance. But then again, that director was Abel Ferrara and the actor to pull it off at the time was Harvey Keitel. Different league.
It may be the best career performance of Val Kilmer, because he has nothing to do but stand around – almost flawless.

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