Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call Summersisle


Director: Neil Labute (2006)
Starring: Nicolas Cage, Ellen Burstyn, Leelee Sobieski
Find it: IMDB

I don’t know about you, but I thought that the original Hammer horror version of The Wicker Man was definitely lacking in Nicholas Cage punching women in the face. Competent direction, acting and scripting are all fine and well, but there's always room for Nicholas Cage punching women in the face, whatever the movie. If he just so happens to be dressed like a bear at the time, even better.

Thankfully, this is properly rectified in the 2006 remake, where occasionally good director Neil Labute includes plenty of scenes which depict Cage punching and kicking women upside the head like there's no tomorrow. Occasionally, he does this dressed as a bear and then half-dressed as a bear. There’s a lot of talk about how bad the movie is, but no-one seems to mention how surprisingly faithful to the original’s plot it is. In the climax, whole lines of dialogue are repeated verbatim. The only noticeable differences are Nicolas Cage, bees, more women, women being punched in the face and a general shoddy air to things.

Rewind a bit. Suffering from Post Traumatic Stress disorder, cop Edward Malus (Cage) is popping pills, looking sweaty and skiving work. Cue a letter from his ex, Willow Woodward (the surname of the original Wicker Man star, GET IT), whose daughter has recently disappeared. Eager to find the girl, Edward ships off to the small island of Summersisle to investigate. Once there, he finds a community of pagan feminists, all in a particularly unhelpful mood. Being an excellent cop, Cage eases tensions by shouting a lot and accusing them of being weird. And then later he runs around the island punching them in the face. There's a great bit reminiscent of Con Air in which Cage points a gun at someone and tells them to “step away from the bike.”

Nothing in the movie really works. The setting is completely inappropriate. There’s nothing pagan about this small, sunny American island, and their matriarchal society just feels like a lazy gimmick. Those hoping to see Leelee Sobieski bouncing naked against a door will be disappointed, since there’s no nudity in the movie. Rod Stewart would be completely inoffended.

Even the visuals are bad. Indeed, the CGI in Wicker Man is amongst the worst I’ve ever seen. Which is odd, considering that there was actually no need for any CGI at any point, ever, during the movie. Practical effects such as landscapes and bees are all animated; and done awfully at that. There are bees everywhere on the island, and they all look terribly fake. “Not the bees!" screams Cage, during the much-maligned finale, "they’re under my eyes!” And on that note, why the balls would a man with a serious bee allergy visit an island which is famed for its enormous quantity of bees? Its chief export is honey. Might want to bring a spacesuit.

Nicolas Cage certainly doesn’t work. He gives a masterfully bad performance. His “God no” upon seeing the Wicker Fella is brilliant (“guh nuuuuh”). I’ve always been a big Cage defender, but then, I’d never seen The Wicker Man until now. The script is never sure whether Edward is supposed to be a hard-boiled cop or a blundering idiot. He wanders around the island on a bicycle, tripping over beehives and falling through (badly animated) holes in floors and plot. The rest of the time, he’s charging around pointing guns at people and calling them stupid. A precursor, perhaps, to his Bad Lieutenant remake slash sequel: Bad Lieutenant Does Summersisle. His character’s a total arsehole throughout. I daresay they upped the jerkiness of the character to make his eventual fate more palatable to modern audiences. Whereas you genuinely felt for virginal Sergeant Howie’s (Edward Woodward) plight, and really wanted him to get away, you honestly won’t give a fuck as to whether Cage gets off’ve the island.

Wicker Man is perhaps one of the best-worst movies ever made. It’s a exercise in entertaining incompetence matched only by I Know Who Killed Me. As a result, I’m so glad this movie exists.



  1. You spent longer reviewing this than it would take to burn Nic Cage in your own Wicker Man. Explain yourself!

  2. For my sins, I love this film so much it's untrue. I could write a whole book on Nicolas Cage's Wicker Man.

  3. You Sir just deactivated my lady boner!

  4. Oh Joel, my Wicker Man soul brother. Why must you point out all the bad things about this movie? We both know how amazing it is, despite the fact that there are no naked singing ladies like in the original.

    I cannot believe that I watched Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans. That was a brain-rape that I did not enjoy.

  5. You didn't like Bad Lieutenant? I loved that movie. Not like I love Wicker Man (they all seemed to be trying a bit too hard) but I really did enjoy it.

    Apologies. It started off as an earnest review in which I did intend to tear this film apart, and then halfway through I realised that I actually love it, so it's neither one thing nor another now.

  6. "How'd it get burned????! How'd it get burned????!" Great write-up.

    Classic Cage!