“Bad Lieutenant”
 
            In “Bad Lieutenant: POCNO,” Nicolas Cage plays Terence McDonagh, the kind of cop nobody wants or likes.  He’s coarse, he’s corrupt, he’s a drug user, he’s a bully, and he’s seemingly completely conscienceless.  The sort of person you hope to keep out of law enforcement.
            The worst part is, he gets promoted, despite himself.  He hurts his back, which gives him constant pain, which not only makes him walk crooked, but also sends him into a downward spiral of seeking medication to mask the pain.  The medication needs to get stronger and stronger, until, finally, he’s a drug addict.  Worse, he has a friend named Frankie (Eva Mendes), a good-looking hooker, who loves to do drugs with him.  The only man who might have anchored his life, his retired-cop Dad, has married a joyless woman who does nothing but drink beer all day.  His partner looks the other way, and his fellow cops cover for him.  There’s nobody to hold him accountable, and so he is free to harass suspects, especially those who might have some recreational drugs on them.  Terence also has a gambling problem, yet another form of addiction, and this puts his safety in jeopardy, also, so that he makes a pact with a local drug dealer (Xzibit): in exchange for protection and information, a cut of the goods.
            Is there any way out of this descent into darkness and chaos?  The viewer wonders the entire time if anybody has enough decency left within them, in the squalor and corruption which is post-Katrina New Orleans , to right themselves, and actually help others instead of manipulate and exploit them.  Nicolas Cage, tending toward the creepy and smarmy, anyway, excels in this out-of-control, angst-ridden, going-crazy-by-degrees kind of role.  He starts seeing things, like alligators and iguanas and even break dancers in a shootout, and he laughs uproariously at his own hallucinations, but it’s a mirthless, loony, kind of laugh, on the edge of hysteria.  Cage has never been so convincingly dissolute.  “BLPOCNO” is not for the squeamish or the genteel, but it does pack a wallop.
 
Dr. Ronald P. Salfen, Pastor, Grace Presbyterian Church, Greenville , Texas