REVIEW: ONCE UPON A TIME IN MEXICO

Starring

Antonio Banderas (Mask of Zorro)
Salma Hayek (Puss In Boots)
Johnny Depp (Ed Wood)
Mickey Rourke (Iron Man 2)
Eva Mendes (2 Fast 2 Furious)
Danny Trejo (Machete)
Enrique Iglesias (How I Met Your Mother)
Marco Leonardi (All the Money in the World)
Cheech Marin (Coco)
Rubén Blades (Predator 2)
Willem Dafoe (Spider-Man)

Johnny Depp in Once Upon a Time in Mexico (2003)El Mariachi is recruited by CIA officer Sheldon Jeffrey Sands to kill General Emiliano Marquez, a corrupt Mexican Army officer who has been hired by Mexican drug lord Armando Barillo to assassinate the President of Mexico and overthrow the government during a period of unrest in Culiacán (the capital of Sinaloa) which is testing the presidency. Many years before, El Mariachi and his wife Carolina confronted Marquez in a shootout and wounded the general; in retaliation, Marquez took the lives of Carolina and their daughter in an ambush. In addition to El Mariachi, Sands persuades former FBI agent Jorge Ramírez to come out of retirement and kill Barillo, who had murdered his partner Archuleta in the past. Furthermore, AFN operative Ajedrez is assigned by Sands to tail Barillo.Enrique Iglesias in Once Upon a Time in Mexico (2003)While monitoring Barillo’s activities, Ramírez meets Billy Chambers, an American fugitive who has been living under the protection of Barillo, but can no longer stomach the horrible tasks he’s been forced to carry out for him. Ramírez convinces Chambers he will provide him protection in exchange for getting closer to Barillo by tagging Chambers’ pet chihuahua with a hidden microphone, and Chambers agrees to complete the deal by surrendering to U.S. authorities once Barillo has been taken down. Sands’ agent, Cucuy, originally hired to keep an eye on El Mariachi, instead turns and tranquilizes El Mariachi and turns him over to Barillo, also offering to reveal the details of Sands’s plan. Cucuy, however, is promptly killed by Chambers while El Mariachi escapes from captivity and calls his friends Lorenzo and Fideo to assist him in his mission.Antonio Banderas and Salma Hayek in Once Upon a Time in Mexico (2003)While monitoring Barillo’s activity outside a hospital, Ramírez notices armed men storming the building and follows suit. He discovers that a group of doctors have been gunned down and Barillo has bled to death as a result of a botched facial reconstruction, but realizes that the corpse on the operating table is a body double before he is knocked out and kidnapped by the real Barillo and Ajedrez, who reveals herself to be Barillo’s daughter. Sands realizes that his mission has been compromised, but is too late, as he is captured by Barillo and Ajedrez — who drill out his eyes before sending him out. Despite his blindness, he manages to gun down a hitman tailing him with the aid of a chiclet boy.Antonio Banderas, Enrique Iglesias, and Marco Leonardi in Once Upon a Time in Mexico (2003)As Culiacán celebrates the Day of the Dead during the President’s visit, Marquez and his army storm in and attack the presidential palace. Marquez’s troops, however, are met with resistance from not only the President’s bodyguards, but also the citizens of Culiacán and the Mariachis. Sands had instructed El Mariachi to allow the President to be killed before attacking Marquez, but the Mariachis, concluding that the President is a good man, intervene early and protect him. Marquez enters the presidential palace, only to once again confront El Mariachi, who shoots out his kneecaps before finishing him off with a headshot. Ramírez, who was released from captivity by Chambers, faces Barillo. After Barillo guns down Chambers, Ramírez and El Mariachi kill the drug lord. Sands manages to shoot the sadistic Ajedrez dead outside the presidential palace. Ultimately, Lorenzo and Fideo walk away with the cash that Barillo was using to pay Marquez, and help the president safely escape the attempted coup. Ramírez says goodbye to Sands and walks away, having avenged his partner’s death. El Mariachi then gives his share of the cash to his home village before walking into the sunset.A follow up to the Desperado film was not something I was expecting.So it came as a shock to see this third instalment in the El Mariachi series being made.But a pleasant surprise it is.It is high on sweltering Mexican style,with impressive camera style and angles.There is a complex and engaging story to follow,complimented by some riveting action scenes and classy dialogue.On the performances front,Antonio Banderas continues to personify Mariachi,with Salma Hayek well cast as his love interest and good support from Johnny Depp,Mickey Rourke and William Dafoe,not to mention Eva Mendes.A wholly worthwhile venture

 

REVIEW: FAST & FURIOUS 5

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CAST

Vin Diesel (XXX)
Paul walker (Brick Mansion)
Jordana Brewster (Chuck)
Dwayne Johnson (San Andreas)
Tyrese Gibson (Transformers)
Ludacris (Gamer)
Matt Schulze (Torque)
Sung Kang (Bullet to The Head)
Gal Gadot (Wonder Woman)
Joaquim de Almeida (Desperado)
Elsa Pataky (Snakes on a Plane)
Tego Calderón (Bling’d: Blood, Diamonds)
Don Omar (Los Bandoleros)
Alimi Ballard (Dark Angel)
Eva Mendes (Stuck on You)
Michael Irby (Seal Team)

When Dominic “Dom” Toretto is being transported to Lompoc Prison by bus, his sister Mia Toretto and friend Brian O’Conner lead an assault on the bus, causing it to crash and freeing Dom. While the authorities search for them, the trio escapes to Rio de Janeiro. Awaiting Dom’s arrival, Mia and Brian join their friend Vince and other participants on a job to steal three cars from a train. Brian and Mia discover that agents from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) are also on the train and that the cars are seized property. When Dom arrives with the rest of the participants, he realizes that one of them, Zizi, is only interested in stealing one car, a Ford GT40. Dom has Mia steal the car herself before he and Brian fight Zizi and his henchmen, during which Zizi kills the DEA agents assigned to the vehicles. Dom and Brian are captured and brought to crime lord Hernan Reyes, the owner of the cars and Zizi’s boss. Reyes orders the pair be interrogated to discover the location of the car, but they manage to escape and retreat to their safehouse.While Brian, Dom, and Mia examine the car to discover its importance, Vince arrives and is caught trying to remove a computer chip from it. He admits he was planning to sell the chip to Reyes on his own, and Dom forces him to leave. Brian investigates the chip and discovers it contains details of Reyes’ criminal empire, including the locations of US$100 million in cash.Diplomatic Security Service agent Luke Hobbs and his team arrive in Rio to arrest Dom and Brian. With the help of local officer Elena Neves, they travel to Dom’s safehouse, but find it under assault by Reyes’ men. Brian, Dom and Mia escape; Dom suggests they split up and leave Rio, but Mia announces she is pregnant with Brian’s child. Dom agrees to stick together and suggests they steal the money from Reyes to start a new life. They organize a team to perform the heist: Han, Roman, Tej, Gisele, Leo, and Santos. Vince later joins the team after saving Mia from being captured by Reyes’ men.Hobbs and his team eventually find and arrest Dom, Mia, Brian, and Vince. While transporting them to the airport for extradition to the United States, the convoy is attacked by Reyes’ men, who kill Hobbs’ team. Hobbs and Elena are saved by Dom, Brian, Mia, and Vince as they fight back and escape, but Vince is shot in the process and dies. Wanting to avenge his murdered team, Hobbs and Elena agree to help with the heist. The gang breaks into the police station and tear the vault holding Reyes’ money from the building using their cars, dragging it through the city. After an extensive police chase, Dom makes Brian continue without him while he attacks the police and the pursuing Reyes, using the vault attached to his car to smash their vehicles. Brian returns and kills Zizi while Reyes is badly injured by Dom’s assault. Hobbs arrives on the scene and executes Reyes to avenge his team. Though Hobbs refuses to let Dom and Brian go free, he gives them a 24-hour head start to escape on the condition they leave the vault as it is. However, the vault is empty as it had been switched during the chase. After splitting the cash (Vince’s share is given to his family), they go their separate ways.On a tropical beach, Brian and a visibly pregnant Mia relax. They are met by Dom and Elena. Brian challenges Dom to a final, no-stakes race to prove who is the better driver. In a mid-credits scene, Hobbs is given a file by Monica Fuentes concerning the hijack of a military convoy in Berlin, where he discovers a recent photo of Dom’s former girlfriend Letty, who had been presumed dead.The movie was packed with jaw dropping, eye popping action from beginning to end. The drama had a mix of sadness, comedy and seriousness which were all mixed in together so beautifully to give a consistency to keep the viewer starring at the screen and being involved in the movie rather than daydreaming about other things. Another great entry in the franchise.

REVIEW: 2 FAST 2 FURIOUS

CAST

Paul Walker (Brick Mansion)
Tyrese Gibson (Transformers)
Cole Hauser (The Lizzie Borden Chronicles)
Eva Mendes (Ghost Rider)
Ludacris (No Strings Attached)
Thom Barry (Cold Case)
James Remar (Gotham)
Devon Aoki (Sin City)
Amaury Nolasco (Prison Break)
Michael Ealy (Flashforward)
Marc Macaulay (Swamp Thing: The Series)

In Miami, Brian O’Conner makes a living by participating in illegal street races. Tej Parker organizes a local street race, involving Suki, Orange Julius, and Slap Jack, however, the race lacks a fourth driver. Tej later calls Brian, who agrees to be the fourth needed for the race. Brian wins, giving a few thousand of his winnings to Tej to show his gratitude. The police then arrive, forcing all the racers to flee. Watched by undercover U.S. Customs Service agent Monica Fuentes, Brian is caught by the agents. He is taken into custody, but given a deal by his former boss, FBI agent Bilkins, and Customs agent Markham, to go undercover and bring down Argentinian drug lord, Carter Verone in exchange for the erasure of his criminal record.

Brian agrees, but only if he is given permission to choose his own partner. This prompts him to travel to Barstow, California, where he enlists the help of Roman Pearce, his childhood friend who served jail time for housing stolen cars in a garage. Roman blames Brian for his arrest, and is currently on parole. Roman agrees to help, but only for the same deal Brian was offered. Roman and Brian are later hired by Verone, who tasks the duo to obtain a package from a confiscated car located in a lot. Markham follows the duo to the lot in order to obtain the package, however, Roman relents, and shoots at Markham to help maintain his cover. He later confronts him for interference with the mission. Brian is able to gain knowledge of the plan, however, and tells Bilkins Verone’s is aiming to launder his money in Miami, before escaping on his private jet.

Later, the team challenges a pair of muscle car drivers they raced when competing for Verone’s hiring, for pink slips. Despite engine and power output handicaps, Brian and Roman manage to win the race and the other two cars. Meanwhile, Roman confronts Brian about his attraction to Monica and the constant threat of Verone’s men. However, the two men patch up their differences, and focus on completing the mission. After witnessing Verone torture Detective Whitworth of the Miami Police Department into giving them a window of opportunity to make their getaway, Brian and Roman are warned by Monica that they will be killed once the drop is made. However, Markham refuses to call off the job, claiming that is their one chance to catch Verone.

On the day of the mission, Brian and Roman begin transporting duffel bags of Verone’s money, with Verone’s right-hand men, Enrique and Roberto, riding alongside to accompany the duo. Before the window is set, Whitworth decides to call in the police to move in for an arrest of the drivers of the cars used by Brian and Roman. This results in a high-speed chase across the city. The duo leads the police to a warehouse, where a “scramble” by dozens of street racers organized by Tej disorients the police. Following the scramble, the police manage to pull over the cars, only to find out that they were driven by Tej and Suki.

As Brian approaches the destination point in a Yenko Camaro, Enrique tells him to make a detour away from the airfield to the Tarpon Point Marina exit. Meanwhile, Roman gets rid of Roberto by using an improvised ejector seat in his Dodge Challenger powered by nitrous oxide. At the airfield, Customs agents have Verone’s plane and convoy surrounded, only to discover they have been duped into a decoy maneuver while Verone is at a boatyard several miles away. Verone reveals he knew Monica was an undercover agent, and purposely gave her wrong information on the destination point. When Brian arrives at the Marina, Enrique prepares to kill him when Roman suddenly appears and helps Brian kill Enrique. Verone makes his escape aboard his private yacht, but Brian and Roman use the Camaro to drive off a ramp, crashing on top of the yacht. The duo manages to apprehend Verone and save Monica. With their crimes pardoned, Brian and Roman ponder on what to do next in Miami, with the former suggesting starting a garage. They are revealed to have taken some of Verone’s money for themselves.

It’s not a bad follow up to the first movie, but not casting Vin Diesel wasn’t smart – it’s like missing a piece to a puzzle. Other than that, it’s still a decent watch with better music and well-staged action sequences.

REVIEW: CHILDREN OF THE CORN V: FIELDS OF TERROR

CAST
Stacy Galina (Knots Landing)
Alexis Arquette (Pulp Fiction)
Eva Mendes (2 Fast 2 Furious)
Greg Vaughan (Poison Ivy 3)
Angela Jones (Man on The Moon)
Ahmet Zappa (Pump Up The Volume)
Fred Williamson (Starsky & Hutch)
Dave Buzzotta (The Prophecy 3)
Adam Wylie (Return To Sleepaway Camp)
David Carradine (Kill Bill)
Kane Hodder (Jason X)
Sicily (One on One)
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A group of teenagers become lost in middle America and arrive in Divinity Falls, where forgotten children have taken on the duty of serving “He Who Walks Behind the Rows”. The teenagers have less than a week to get out of the town. However, they find that their car is destroyed, and the children are held accountable. Alison, the leader of the teenagers, overhears that the children are the adopted wards of Luke Enright, a madman who considers himself the savior of the children, and the earthly representative of He Who Walks Behind The Rows. Upon remembering that her brother is also among them, Alison and the rest decide to go to Enright’s farm to discover the truth behind the bizarre cult. Upon arrival, they are stopped by Ezekial, who could be considered the leader of the children, and he informs them they are on private property and must leave. (In Christianity, Ezekiel is told to have seen wheels of fiery light in the sky.) After a debate, Alison is finally allowed to see Luke. He informs her that her brother is there, and agrees to let her see him, only to be rejected by him for leaving him alone with their abusive father. Jacob informs her that he is engaged to be married to a girl named Lily, and also states that she is pregnant with his child. Meanwhile, the rest of Allison’s group are kept outside, where the men are intimidated by a physically powerful and exceptionally tall teen named Jared.
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Ezekial holds a ceremony for the annual sacrifice to He Who Walks Behind the Rows, which involves a child who has reached 18 years of age to leap into a flaming corn silo where the god is supposed to dwell. Jacob is chosen, but he refuses and tells Ezekiel that his religion is false, angering him. Kir, one of the “outsiders”, agrees to become a part of the cult after reading a part of their “Bible” earlier. After Jacob attempts to leave, Kir chooses to take the fateful course, and climbs to the silo and leaps to a fiery demise. The rest of the group wishes to leave the town, but Alison refuses to leave without Jacob. They leave her, and she eventually reads a message Jacob left her in his Bible. It translates to “Help”, and she realizes he wants to escape. She enlists the help of the sheriff to stop Luke and Ezekial.
Greg, who has developed a crush on Alison, chooses to go back and help her and the rest decide to go as well. Alison, with the aid of the sheriff and the fire department, attempt to stop the silo and arrest Luke. While trying to extinguish the silo, the flames come alive and kill the two fire fighters and Luke kills the sheriff and apparently himself after his head splits open and a burst of flame shoots through. Ezekial reveals that Luke had been dead for years, and he is the children’s true leader. After killing two of the deranged kids, Alison meets her friends, and an all-out battle erupts between them and the kids ending with the deaths of everyone except Alison. Alison eventually finds her brother (captured by Ezekiel for disobeying him), and before dying he tells her how to stop the corn god. Ezekial tries to kill Alison, but after a struggle she sends him falling into the silo to a violent, fiery death. She then dumps fertilizer into the silo, killing the corn god in multiple explosions. Alison then goes to Lily’s house (Jacob’s wife). Lily’s parents tell Alison that Lily isn’t ready to raise a baby because she is a baby herself. Lily tells Alison that it’s for the best that she adopts her baby. As the film ends, the baby is seen being comforted by song, as the green-orange light of the silo fire is shown burning in his eyes.
In the late nineties the teen slasher was starting to get popular again, mainly on the back of the success of Craven’s Scream. So what else for the Children of the Corn series than to have some college kids crash their car and get chased by local murderous kids? There were a few cast surprises here, including Eva Mendes in her first feature, Fred Williamson as the Sheriff, David Carradine as the cult leader and Kane Hodder as the barman. If you’re a fan of horror, you’ll find enough to like.

REVIEW: HITCH

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CAST

Will Smith (I Am Legend)
Eva Mendes (Ghost Rider)
Kevin James (Paul Blart)
Amber Valletta (Gamer)
Julie Ann Emery (Movie 43)
Adam Arkin (Halloween: H20)
Michael Rapaport (The 6th Day)
Jeffrey Donovan (Burn Notice)
Paula Patton (Mission Impossible 4)
Kevin Sussman (The Big Bang Theory
Joe Lo Truglio (Paul)
Fran Kranz (The Cabin In The Woods)
Rebecca Mader (Lost)
Alex “Hitch” Hitchens (Will Smith) is a professional “date doctor” who coaches other men in the art of wooing women, with a focus on long-term relationships. While coaching one of his clients, Albert Brennaman (Kevin James), who is smitten with a client of his investment firm, celebrity Allegra Cole (Amber Valletta), Hitch finds himself falling for Sara Melas (Eva Mendes). Sara is a gossip columnist and a major workaholic. While Albert and Allegra’s relationship continues to progress, Hitch finds it difficult to initiate a dialog with Sara, finding that none of his methods are working for catching her, while likewise being impressed with her ability to see through people’s attempts to make advances. Throughout the entire process, he keeps his career secret, claiming to be a generic “consultant.”
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Hitch meets with Vance Munson (Jeffrey Donovan), a shallow chauvinist attempting to enlist Hitch to help him land a one-night stand with Casey Sedgewick (Julie Ann Emery), Sara’s coworker and best friend. Although Hitch refused to help, Vance misled Sara into believing that he used Hitch’s services. After finding out Hitch’s true identity, Sara publishes an exposé, causing Allegra and Albert to break up and Hitch’s reputation to suffer. At a speed dating cafe that Hitch sneaks into, Sara and Casey confront Hitch and cite Vance as their source. Hitch explains that not only did he refuse to work with him, Vance’s personality type is why women protect themselves, but that same protection also unintentionally made establishing genuine relationships difficult enough to create a demand for Hitch’s services. Hitch then tries to salvage Albert and Allegra’s relationship. He confronts Allegra, telling her that he doesn’t really do anything significant besides giving his clients confidence and allowing them to get the attention of the women, and that most of his customers, particularly Albert, really were successful just being themselves. Allegra reconciles with Albert. The film ends with Albert and Allegra getting married as well as Hitch and Sara resuming their relationship.
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It’s a good romantic comedy that makes you laugh and cry and as a nice bonus, it’s good clean fun too

 

REVIEW: KNOCKED UP

 

CAST

Seth Rogen (Bad neighbours)
Katherine Heigl (27 Dresses)
Paul Rudd (Ant-Man)
Leslie Mann (17 Again)
Jason Segel (How I Met Your Mother)
Jay Baruchel (This Is The End)
Jonah Hill (Cyrus)
Martin Starr (Veronica Mars)
Charlyne Yi (Cloverfield)
Harold Ramis (Year One)
Alan Tudyk (Firefly)
Kristen Wiig (Zoolander 2)
Bill Hader (Superbad)
Ken Jeong (The Hangover)
Craig Robinson (Zack and Miri Make a Porno)
Adam Scott (Krampus)
J.P. Manoux (Birds of Prey)
Paul Feig (Spy)
Jessica Alba (Machete)
Steve Carell (Evan Almighty)
Andy Dick (Dude, Where’s My Car?)
James Franco (Spider-Man)
Eva Mendes (2 Fast 2 Furious)
Dax Shepard (Hit and Run)

Film Title:

The 40 Year Old Virgin took more than two hours to get its main character laid. In Knocked Up…? Fifteen minutes flat. It’s not that Ben Stone (Seth Rogen) was on the prowl or anything; fate just kinda got hammered and passed out in his lap. See, Alison Scott (Katherine Heigl) landed a gig as on-air talent at E!, and after celebrating a bit too hard, she wakes up the next morning to Ben’s hairy, pasty, bare ass poking out of her bedsheets. Ali groans to her sister (Leslie Mann) about making such a shameful mistake, while Ben darts home to brag to his stoner roommates as they slowly get their topless celebrity database off the ground.

Writer/director Judd Apatow doesn’t use Knocked Up as an excuse to toss in whatever dick jokes he’d been stockpiling for the past couple of years. He genuinely likes and respects these characters, and so much of what happens is drawn from his own experiences as a father-to-be that as hysterical as the movie often is, it also feels surprisingly real and sincere. Knocked Up treats pregnancy with quite a bit of gravity, and the way its characters fight — particularly between on-screen husband and wife Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann — can be unflinchingly cruel. Most filmmakers would water down the less glamorous side of love, romance, and parenthood or use them as a springboard for cheap, easy laughs, but Apatow is sharp enough to deftly balance the comedy with the drama.

The movie is perfectly cast. Katherine Heigl is a buxotic Amazon cut from the Russ Meyer cloth, sure, but she’s also sweet, somehow sympathetic no matter how much her character’s hormones may be raging, and sharp enough to hold her own with the rest of the cast. Seth Rogen joins a small army of Apatow regulars — name just about any project the prolific producer has shepherded over the past decade and chances are at least six people from it are in here somewhere — and it’s a breakout role for him. Ben is slovenly but kind of endearing at the same time, enough so that I could almost buy someone with Heigl’s good looks succumbing to his charms. His jaunt into adulthood feels natural and believable too, not just something in a montage penned by a screenwriter collecting a seven figure payday. There’s something about the fact that Ben’s roommates are played by actors who are all friends in real life that gives their loose, improvisational energy that much more spark.MV5BMTU3MTIzOTU3N15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTYwOTM3ODc2._V1_Knocked Up didn’t strike me as the sort of instant classic so many people heralded it as, but I did enjoy it, and I’m kind of left with the impression that the movie will grow on me more and more its viewed.

REVIEW: BAD LIEUTENANT: PORT OF CALL NEW ORLEANS

 

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Nicolas Cage (Ghost Rider)
Eva Mendes (Hitch)
Val Kilmer (Batman Forever)
Xzibit (Derailed)
Fairuza Balk (Almost Famous)
Shawn Hatosy (Alpha Dog)
Jennifer Coolidge (2 Broke Girls)
Tom Bower (Die Hard 2)
Brad Dourif (Curse of Chucky)
Shea Whigham (Agent Carter)
Michael Shannon (Man of Steel)
J.D. Evermore (Cloak & Dagger)
Gary Grubbs (Battleship)
Denzel Whitaker (The Purge TV)

Werner Herzog’s Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans opens with the image of a snake swimming through the flood waters of New Orleans, and you’ll have go a long way to find a more apt metaphor to kick off a picture with. What follows is a wholly indescribable mishmash of the slick and the stank, the cool and the campy. It is, at risk of putting too fine a point on it, almost exactly the film you’d expect Herzog and Nicolas Cage to come up with together. What it is not is a sequel, remake, “reboot,” or “re-imagining” of Abel Ferrara’s 1992 film Bad Lieutenant. It is a different story, about a different guy, in a different place, and told in a completely different style (Ferrera’s film is a stark, gritty, grim character study, and Herzog’s picture, while frequently disturbing, plays as a pitch-black comedy). All it has in common with its namesake is that it is about a thieving, whoring, druggie cop; the carryover of the title (reportedly at the insistence of the two films’ shared producer Edward R. Pressman, who wanted a straight remake and should have known better if he was hiring Herzog) will probably confuse more than it will assist.

The story begins in the immediate wake of Hurricane Katrina, as New Orleans cops Terence McDonagh (Cage) and Stevie Pruit (Val Kilmer) survey their deserted station house and discover a leftover prisoner who is about to drown in the rising flood waters of his cell. They contemplate betting on how long it’ll take the water to kill the poor sap, but McDonagh ends up diving in to save him, hurting his back in the process. “I’m gonna write you a prescription for Vicadin,” his doctor tells him, and our junkie cop is off and running.

Six months later, McDonagh is in the throes of a full-on drug addiction, tooting up in his car on the way into a crime scene. The scene is the gruesome, execution-style slaying of a family of five; the patriarch was apparently a low-level drug dealer. Solving the crime becomes, in his words, his “primary purpose”–well, that and getting drugs. Lots and lots of drugs.

Broadly speaking, we find Herzog working within the framework of a glossy, well-produced, star-driven thriller; however, Nicolas Cage is no typical star, and this is no standard procedural. The actor has spent too much of the last decade slumming and sleepwalking through mindless paycheck pictures like Knowing, Ghost Rider, Bangkok Dangerous, and the soul-crushing National Treasure series, but every once in a while (I’m gonna say the last time was Lord of War) he gets his hand on a role with some power to it, and turns up the juice. This is the best work he’s done in years, a deliriously unhinged performance that you can’t take your eyes off of. He plays this guy from the outside in–the sheer physicality of the performance is impressive, not only in the expected addict’s tics but in his peculiar walk (he uses an odd sideways lope, as if the gun in his belt is throwing him off balance) and strange speech patterns (as he becomes more addicted, he uses a chewed-up, stylized speaking voice that sounds like a contrivance but totally works within the context of the characterization). He indulges himself a bit, sure; he resorts to mugging in some of his close-ups, and the sheer theatricality of the performance may turn some viewers off. But it’s a risky, impressive piece of work.

William M. Finkelstein’s screenplay has some good scenes (including at least one that reminds of, and rivals, the shock value of that horrifying traffic stop in the original Bad Lieutenant) and a sound structure that allows for the indulgences of its director and star; it somehow seems perfectly logical that, midway through, McDonagh ends up heading to Biloxi with a fifteen-year-old witness and his dad’s dog so that he can pick up his hooker girlfriend. The character is written with complexity beyond his vices; it is unfortunate but true that McDonagh is good at being a cop (even if he’s not a “good cop”). He’s got steady instincts, and he’s strong in the interrogation room. If only he weren’t having all those pesky hallucinations.

The screenplay provides a darkly comic motor to the picture, and much of it is played at that pitch, with great success–Cage’s jittery explosion at a pharmacy clerk and his gun-waving interrogation of two elderly women build to juicy and explosively funny comic payoffs. It’s got such a wicked and knowing sense of humor, in fact, that the mere phrase “property room” becomes a punchline by the picture’s end. It is, my no means, a “funny” movie in any kind of traditional sense, but it uses dark humor as a weapon to keep its viewers on their toes, adding to the unpredictability and oddball, insane style of the piece.