From the reactions of the critical community, one would think that Werner Herzog's collaboration with Nicolas Cage was some kind of classic gonzo mashup of genre convention and Method actor playing Improv games with co-stars.
BAD LIEUTENANT is a sometimes-meandering two-hour mixture of Steven Bochco-esque police procedural (which makes sense since Bochco almunus William Finkelstein wrote the script and shows up in a role that sort of channels Mark Rydell playing Marty Augustine in THE LONG GOODBYE), a few riffs from/shoutouts to Abel Ferrara's original 1992 character study with Harvey Keitel planting his feet at the bottom of the metaphorical swimming pool and a lot of let's-throw-Cage-in-a-scene- with-another-actor-and-see-what-happens.
There are some bits involving iguanas and alligators--presumably Herzog's main contribution. One can't help but regret that Klaus Kinski is deceased; imagine the kind of thespic bouts of one-actor-upstaging-another he and Cage would have engaged in.
In short, Herzog's previous venture into the mainstream, the Sam Fuller-influenced RESCUE DAWN, is definitely superior. And there's a new DVD release of the original THE BAD LIEUTENANT--waiting to be bought, as well as a reminder of what Ferrara could achieve before his artiness descended to look-what-a-deep-thinker-I-am fare like THE FUNERAL and THE ADDICTION.