Werner Herzog’s Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans partakes in loopiness often enough to make one wish its rote policier concerns were shunted even further into the background. Sharing a title with, but none of the tortured spiritual wrestling found in, Abel Ferrara’s 1992 masterpiece, Herzog sets his tale in a chalkboard-gray post-Katrina Big Easy whose disarray speaks generally to humanity’s capacity for iniquity and, specifically, to the insanity of newly promoted lieutenant Terence McDonagh (Nicolas Cage). Terence is a dirty cop introduced stealing nude photos of a fellow officer’s wife, and who’s prone to partake in whatever illicit substances (pot, coke, crack, heroin) he can procure. Herzog’s story (written by William M. Finkelstein) revolves around Terrence’s investigation into the execution of a drug-runner’s family, but it soon spirals out in free-flowing ways to include Terence’s junkie prostitute girlfriend Frankie (Eva Mendes), crime boss Big Fate (Xzibit), bookie Ned (Brad Dourif), partner Stevie (Val Kilmer) and other assorted weirdoes. All of them, however, seem downright straight-edged compared to Cage’s antihero, a narcotized loose cannon whose amorality is epitomized by an early assault on a frisky couple in a nightclub parking lot that ends with Terence smoking crack with, molesting and receiving a handjob from the woman while he forces the boyfriend, at gunpoint, to watch. With sloped shoulders and a stilted gait (symptoms of a back injury and his corruptness), speech that sporadically takes on bizarre accents, and a face that careens violently between unhinged grimaces and explosions of maniacal laughter, Cage turns Terence into a prototypical Herzog (by way of Klaus Kinski) embodiment of human animalism and psychosis. Terence’s depraved lunacy is New Orleans’ and, in turn, is occasionally Herzog’s as well, with the director – seemingly bored by his material’s more traditional passages – periodically tearing apart conventions via bonkers interludes in which he peeks at a traffic accident through the mouth of a roadside crocodile, or indulges in twitchy, upturned close-ups of iguanas while Cage, in the background, stares off into the distance or grins crazily at the camera. Given its shaggy, kooky, bleakly comic portrait of personal and social decay, Port of Call New Orleans consistently feels like an exercise in Herzogian farting-around, which may not result in a coherent whole but nonetheless delivers bursts of random, inspired madness.