Critic Reviews



Based on 19 critic reviews provided by
Chicago Sun-Times
It is not a "dirty movie," and in fact takes spirituality and morality more seriously than most films do. And in the bad lieutenant, Keitel has given us one of the great screen performances in recent years.
Entertainment Weekly
For all its scenes of degradation (five minutes of which have been shorn for an R-rated cut; we recommend the original NC-17 version), Bad Lieutenant is a deeply moral movie. It's not pretty-it's not even very realistic-but it does matter.
Abel Ferrara's uncompromising Bad Lieutenant is a harrowing journey observing a corrupt NY cop sink into the depths, with an extraordinary and uninhibited performance by Harvey Keitel in the title role.
What it lacks in charm, it compensates for with audacity and single-mindedness of vision.
Chicago Tribune
For Keitel, this is the Scorsese film that Scorsese never gave him, in which he gets to elbow Robert De Niro away from center stage and take the best part for himself. He seizes the opportunity: Bad Lieutenant immediately becomes one of the defining roles of his career. [22 Jan 1993, Friday, p.C]
Washington Post
Ferrara is clearly drawing an equation between the criminals' actions and The Lieutenant's, and as trite (and potentially shameless) as this may sound, it actually works.
TV Guide Magazine
Harvey Keitel gives an astonishing performance here... Though hardly a film for all sensibilities, Bad Lieutenant has the courage of its own convictions, and follows them to the bitter end.
As good as the lead actor is, he's not enough to save this picture from landing on the scrap-heap of uninspired, derivative, and grotesquely distasteful character studies. Ferrara is definitely no Martin Scorsese.
USA Today
It's the first film to include both a cameo appearance by Jesus and a full-frontal nude shot of Harvey Keitel dancing in a drugged stupor. [20 Nov 1992, Life, p.4D]
Despite a glut of luridness, the story line feels essentially flat, as Keitel stumbles through New York in an immoral, unchanging haze. It is only the strength of Keitel's performance that gives his personality human dimension.

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