Bad Lieutenant - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Bad Lieutenant Reviews

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October 31, 2016
raw and brutal. independant film must-have with a indy film darling in Harvey Keitel.
August 18, 2016
Bad Lieutenant (1992) C-96m. ??? D: Abel Ferrara. Harvey Keitel, Victor Argo, Paul Calderon. Drab, bleak, but effectual look at immoral policeman's investigation of young nun's deflowering. How much you enjoy this film will depend on how much you sympathize with Kietel--and how much you stomach his wrong decisions; not entirely successful, but still interesting. Rated NC-17 for full-frontal Keitel.
½ May 25, 2016
Watchable, gritty, with a Mean Streets feel to it.
½ May 25, 2016
Harvey Keitel gave a damn good perfrormance about a corrupt cop, who is severely addicted to drugs. He does anything at anytime and simply doesn't care about what he is doing to his body. He is on a case of a gang rape in a church that happened to a nun. The movie doesn't look at him trying to solve the case, as it does more of him just getting messed up all day long. The psyche of this guy is crazy. I was wondering where the movie was going. What it was building up to. The ending was decent as it just explored a man at the end of his road, who not only is addicted to drugs, but gambling...he is a man of many vices that ultimately come to bite him bad when all said and done.

While Kietel was absolutely fantastic, the movie needed more plot underneath the man to make this a 4 star movie.
It was just watching a guy get high all movie, which got a little old.
May 17, 2016
Really didn't like this movie. Very unlikeable characters that make terrible decisions. Very dirty looking and uncomfortable. Pass on this one.
½ May 14, 2016
It's tough and extremely well-acted by Harvey Keitel.
½ April 2, 2016
If this movie wants to make you feel like a sack of sh*t... Well it did it's job, without the need of gore or anything but human nature. Props to Harvey Keitel.
½ February 22, 2016
Depressing movie from beginning to end.
February 13, 2016
2016-02-13 very good movie, very sad portrait but very well done
December 30, 2015
Featuring impeccable acting from Harvey Keitel, who embodies his character with utmost brilliancy, as well as an overwhelming amount of resonance and symbolism, which add to the film's ultimate effect, as well as to the film's powerful screenplay, all of whose events are directed superbly by Abel Ferrara, who enables the film to coerce the audience vehemently into a realm of harrowing emotions, allowing the film to establish it's mark as possibly one of the greatest films of the 90s.
Super Reviewer
½ November 20, 2015
Abel Ferrara's bleak cult-classic is a deeply disturbing character study of a corrupt self-destructive twenty-year veteran police detective, played by Harvey Keitel in a powerhouse star performance, who has a serious drug and gambling addiction, he also is a sexual deviant who cavorts with hookers and takes gross advantage of teenage girls. Now this amoral police detective is investigating a shocking case of a young beautiful Catholic nun that was brutally raped and mutilated by two low-life youths, the nun has said that she forgives her attackers. This case affects The Lieutenant who is filled with Catholic guilt, he goes on a violent rampage to find the two young rapists, at the same time he is spiraling out-of-control and his of a collision course to disaster. Astute direction by Ferrara, with solid supporting performances by victor Argo, Paul Calderon, Leonard L. Thomas, Robin Burrows, and Paul Hipp, but its Keitel's impassioned highly impressive turn that dominates this intense nightmarish motion picture. Highly Recommended.
October 30, 2015
The Director says so many things thanks to immense help of Keitels' dramatic portrait.
½ August 29, 2015
It is Keitel's courageous performance that drives this film. You will be stunned by the way he transforms himself and bares everything. It is not so much about the plot or the dialogue (there's nothing particularly outstanding about the script). It is all about this character; about his corrupted soul, addiction, and him seeking for redemption. Will the Lieutenant change by the end of the film? Will his soul be saved? Bad Lieutenant showcases how good and daring of an actor Harvey Keitel is. Bravo!
½ August 27, 2015
Harvey Keitel turns in one of the best performances of all time as the title character
July 12, 2015
One of the very few Abel Ferrara films that has managed to elevate itself beyond a small fringe audience. This film not only captured a fairly large audience but secured solid reviews. Harvey Keitel's performance takes itself to an equivalent of a "primal scream." So realistic it often feels like Keitel has become his character. It is a brutal and tragic performance.

Years of navigating the rough streets of NYC as a cop have taken more than a toll on Ferrara's Lieutenant. We never know if our protagonist was ever a good guy, but a number of things indicates that he might have been. But the story begins with an aging cop who is addicted to gambling, drugs, sex and power. Interestingly, his only real power seems to lie in his ability to sexually abuse teenagers so they can avoid a visit to jail. It is a risky film on so many levels.

When The Lieutenant is handed the case of the rape of a young nun, it sends him on a downward existential spiral. Slowly this angry burned-out bully of a man is forced to face the horrors of his world and the growing awareness that he is a part of the horrors rather than someone trying to prevent them. It almost seems as if The Lieutenant takes on not only the guilt but the trauma of the rape in a more profound way than the nun herself. Unable to come to terms with faith's willingness to forgive, Keitel's Bad Lieutenant becomes impotent, muted and alone.

It is a grim and unforgettable film. The low budget of the movie only seems to add to the grit and realism of what we see. It would be short-sighted to view this film's graphic depiction of sexual violence, nudity and drug use as "exploitive" -- this angry movie has something to say and it demands that we listen.
June 6, 2015
Scorsese would be proud of this
May 14, 2015
I mean, I don't think it's shocking just to shock, I think there's an intended message here. But the message does seem to be just "the world is shit, everything's falling apart, and cops are worse than the criminals they're chasing". Which, sure, was more true in the '80s than now, but it's such easy satire it always makes me roll my eyes. On the other hand, it's a really beautiful movie. So, there's that.
½ May 10, 2015
A phenomenally towering and lay-it-all-out-there performance by Harvey Keitel elevates this very troubling and difficult film. Brutal, jaw-dropping, and cringe-inducing in equal amounts -- with a tincture of tenderness (like Milton The Monster). Keitel's performance is, indeed, a revelation!
May 10, 2015
This film is hard... hard to the core. It is gritty, seedy, subversive, untainted by cinematic stylization, gut wrenching and above all genuine. The highlight of the film, of which not even the hardest of heads can discount, is Harvey Keitel's astounding, balls to the wall no bars hold performance as the "Bad Lieutenant." A man who not only has no name in the film, but is equally as empty inside, degenerative and amoralistic to where one finds it hard pressed whether to hate him or feel immense pity and sorrow--not just for his character, but for the archetype he represents in our society.

Another thematic element that brings Bad Lieutenant beyond a character study of a disturbed individual is the element of redemption (particularly of the Christian faith, but an abstraction which spreads to humanity), find salvation in the midst of corruption, turning "bitter semen into fertile sperm" as the raped nun appropriately phrases.

Keitel's character piques at the end when he has a most memorable melt down in front of an unflinching image of Jesus Christ. This Christ turns out to be a hallucination which in turn helps him find personal redemption, but whether it is enough to cure his emptiness is highly questionable.

Justice is ultimately served on all ends. The film concludes appropriately on a grim note. Director Abel Ferrara outdid himself as did all other cast and crew in this seminal film, arguably one of the darkest gems of the 90's and one of the great cult films of all time.

Some are bound to be turned away by its NC-17 amoralistic content and decadence, but accepting this in tandem with the underlying themes of redemption and resolution is what makes this a classic.
½ May 6, 2015
I do not, of course know Harvey Keitel so I do not know how good his performance was in this depressing movie. Maybe he was playing himself!! I hate getting to the end of a movie and saying...WHAT??? because it does not make any sense. When he puts those kids on the bus and gives them money is it an attempt to do something good before he dies? Was this distorted move a product of a severely twisted, tortured mind? I don't care..I hated this movie and know now why it took so many years to finally sit through it. Bad Lieutenant=Bad movie!
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