Anthony's Film Review

Rampart (2011)

Woody Harrelson nicely immerses himself in the role of a corrupt police officer...

Rampart isn't really so much a plot movie as much as a cinematic character study. I'll tell you right now that you won't really find a story in this police drama film. Yes, there are a few interesting events, but they are only there to illustrate a character's psyche, not advance a story. But if you are the kind of film lover who enjoys in-depth character dramas, you might like Rampart. If you also enjoy police dramas, even better.

The movie takes place in Los Angeles in the year 1999, focusing specifically on the Rampart Division of the Los Angeles Police Department. In real life, several officers of LAPD's Rampart Division had faced corruption charges, and it serves as a good backdrop for the main character of Officer Dave Brown, played by Woody Harrelson. With a stiff mouth and a pair of reflective sunglasses, this is a guy who definitely comes across as someone you don't want to mess with. As illustrated by the beating of a thug in an interrogation room, Dave does not hesitate to use excessive force to enforce the law. He really gets himself in hot water when he is videotaped beating an unarmed motorist (a stark reminder of the Rodney King incident many years before).

There are also scenes of Dave's off-duty life. In fact, there are probably more of these types of scenes than those featuring him in uniform. Still, they provide a glimpse into the kind of person he is when he isn't working. Or rather, the kind of person he tries to be. He has two daughters, one preteen and one adolescent, from prior marriages to two women who are sisters. He spends some time with the family at the dinner table, but most of the time, he is spending time alone in their house. Instead of trying to establish close relationships with his daughters and ex-wives, he is sleeping around with women he picks up at bars, including an attorney who may be investigating him.

And there are, of course, scenes involving officials handling the case of Dave's motorist beating. The supporting cast here includes Sigourney Weaver, Steve Buscemi, and Ice Cube. Although their performances are decent, they are really only there for Woody Harrelson's character to show (or rather, hide) his true nature. These scenes are interesting in that Dave becomes even more mysterious. As the movie proceeds, he becomes someone who ultimately has no redeeming value whatsoever.

As I said, this film is primarily a character study without a plot. It also doesn't explore themes and questions related to police corruption, such as why it happens. Rampart also has an open ending with many questions unanswered, though this may be the filmmaker's intended purpose. While these are things that would prevent my rating for this movie from being higher, I'm not giving it a low rating either. I still give credit to Woody Harrelson for playing a character that is realistic and essentially true to life. At least there is one thing to appreciate in a film like this.

Anthony's Rating:

For more information about Rampart, visit the Internet Movie Database.


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