November 20, 2009 Leave a comment Go to comments

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

Despite being nominally based on the massively controversial Harvey Keitel movie from 1992, this new version of Bad Lieutenant has virtually nothing in common with its predecessor. Directed by Werner Herzog, it stars Nicolas Cage as a drug-and-gambling addicted New York detective named Terrence McDonagh, who travels to a post-Katrina New Orleans to help solve the murders of five Senegalese immigrants. With an eccentric supporting cast that includes Val Kilmer, Eva Mendes, Fairuza Balk, Xzibit and Brad Dourif, the film was barely released in theaters in America, scraping a paltry $1.3 million at the box office.

The score for the film is by the talented and versatile Mark Isham. His music is rooted in the moody, jazzy noir sound that has permeated much of his work in the crime genre throughout the years, and prominently features a solo trumpet, his signature calling card. Cues such as the opening “Trolling”, “Lonely Terrance” and “Snake in Water” reflect The Big Easy’s gritty underbelly through the use of low, ominous strings and metallic percussion, while the trumpet reflects the city’s established association with jazz music while acting as a sober leitmotif for the lieutenant himself. Other cues, such as “Scene of the Crime”, “Stake-Out” and “More Prowling”, are livelier, with smart rhythms and tinkling cimbaloms that occasionally adopt an almost comical air, while still retaining the general sense of danger lurking in the shadows.

Once in a while Isham turns the mood on its head, using identical orchestrations in a different setting to elicit a darker, more threatening mood, such as in “Alligator and Boots” and the excellent “Drugs and the Spider Web”; these cues are very effective indeed. Although it doesn’t have the swagger of The Cooler or the out-and-out brilliance of something like The Black Dahlia, there’s still plenty of good stuff to be found here, especially for fans of Isham’s crime thriller scores, and it’s a shame it has not been released.

An 8-minute suite of music from the film was created especially for fans by Isham himself, and is available for download via his website; this full score promo was released through his agency for awards consideration purposes.

Rating: ***½

Track Listing:

  • Trolling (3:46)
  • Scene of the Crime (2:51)
  • Meet Big Fate (1:46)
  • In the Crib (1:50)
  • Lonely Terrace (1:24)
  • Alligator and Boots (2:50)
  • Snake in Water (3:57)
  • Stake-Out (1:43)
  • More Prowling (2;24)
  • Silver Spoon (1:34)
  • Interrogation (1:30)
  • Searching for Daryl (1:38)
  • Drugs and the Spider Web (3:10)
  • Bad Dave (4:17)
  • Bad Lieutenant – End Credits (2:19)

Running Time: 36 minutes 59 seconds

Promo (2009)

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