Bad Lieutenant


Generally favorable reviews - based on 18 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 13 out of 18
  2. Negative: 1 out of 18

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Critic Reviews

  1. 100
    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.
  2. San Francisco Chronicle
    Reviewed by: Mick LaSalle
    Not only more crazy than “Reservoir Dogs,'' but it also feels more real. [1 Jan 1993, Daily Notebook, p.D1]
  3. 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.
  4. 90
    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.
  5. There's an undeniable formal elegance in the way Ferrara, who coauthored the script with Zoe Lund, frames and holds certain shots, and Keitel certainly gives his all in this 1992 entry in the Raging Bull redemptive sweepstakes.
  6. Reviewed by: Ian Nathan
    Abel Ferrara out-sleazes even his own grubby oeuvre with this powerful if overbearing study of a soul swallowed by depravity.
  7. What it lacks in charm, it compensates for with audacity and single-mindedness of vision.
  8. Chicago Tribune
    Reviewed by: Dave Kehr
    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]
  9. Pick your cliche - searing, rivetting, haunting - Keitel delivers a performance to rival Brando's in "Last Tango In Paris."
  10. 70
    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.
  11. 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.
  12. Los Angeles Times
    Reviewed by: Peter Rainer
    It's a film enthralled by its own lower depths… Although Bad Lieutenant is structured as a redemptive thriller, it functions primarily as a freak show with religioso overtones. [30 Dec 1992, Calendar, p.F-7]
  13. Mr. Ferrara has his saving graces, too, the chief one being raw talent, which he continues to display while telling even the most far-fetched story.
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 26 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 2 out of 3
  2. Negative: 0 out of 3
  1. JoshC
    Jan 16, 2007
    A hardcore scuzzmeister elevates himself to a new place with this startling, powerfully restrained portrayal of sin and salvation in godless A hardcore scuzzmeister elevates himself to a new place with this startling, powerfully restrained portrayal of sin and salvation in godless NY. Keitel's inarticulate maudit philosopher is the most uninhabited performance in this disco inferno that also offers relgious hallucinations. As sordid as the material is, the movie isn't oppressive. Full Review »