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The Cinematic Katzenjammer: Aug 10: Rampart


Aug 10: Rampart

"Set in 1999 Los Angeles, veteran police officer Dave Brown, the last of the renegade cops, works to take care of his family, and struggles for his own survival."
Directed by: Oren Moverman, Rated: R, 108 minutes

"Bear in mind that I am not a racist. Fact is, I hate all people equally." sums up Rampart's main character, Dave Brown (Woody Harrelson) perfectly. He hates everyone and everything and does whatever the hell he wants. Of course, this leads to a rather unlikable "hero" and turns Rampart into a series of hate filled events as opposed to a compelling crime drama. The film clearly tries to channel Training Day, even having moments where Dave is teaching new recruits the way of the street cop. Unfortunately, Rampart lacks the intensity (and the script) that makes Training Day so good.

Denzel's a bigger, badder motherf**ker.

Dave Brown is an LA cop who has been working the streets for the last 24 years. He's tough, rough, racist, sexist, and absolutely obsessed with drugs, alcohol and women. He's a bad man with a dirty heart and incredibly hard to like. When he's not working (or drinking and getting high), Dave struggles to keep up with the relationships he has with his two daughters. As the two girls grow older, they become more aware of the kind of man their father is and Dave finds connecting with them even harder. After a very public beating of a man that crashes into his patrol car is recorded and put on the news, Dave's career and methods go under fire and his life is investigated. He's given a hard warning but after a convenience story robbery ends with the murder of one of the thieves (at the hands of Dave), everything spirals out of control and Dave faces termination and criminal charges. Rampart follows the man on his patrols and his interactions with drug dealers and informants, as well as his two ex-wives played by Cynthia Nixon and Anne Heche. 

Simply put, Woody plays a dick. Yeah, I went there.

The film really lacks any solid plot and the story that unfolds is more or less the slow demise of a horrible man. However, Harrelson gives one hell of a performance as Dave Brown and his intensity and fleeting moments of emotion make Rampart watchable. Harrelson is gaunt and disheveled as Brown and his dedication to the role strengthens the notion that Brown is really a man falling part in front of us. He's a man who's used to be in charge, by any means necessary, and when his power is threatened and his life-style put at risk, he squirms like the worm he is. In a weird way, it's intriguing to watch, and while the filmmakers tried very hard to make him likable, it's too difficult to sympathize with the man. 

When a guy's nickname is "Daterape", you know you're going to have a bad time. 

Rampart is worth a recommendation for Harrelson's performance alone. Although the man he plays is so disgustingly unlikable, you can't deny the talent behind the role. Harrelson is a very underrated actor and Rampart does a fine job showcasing his abilities that many people believe he doesn't have. Harrelson is not the only great actor in Rampart, however, as Ben Foster (who plays a handicapped war-vet-junkie), Brie Larson (Dave's daughter, Helen), Robin Wright ("love interest", Linda), and Ned Beatty deliver solid performances. The film is worth a watch but is not anything you should go out of your way to track down. 

The Good:
Woody Harrelson in one of his best performances to date
The Bad:
a script that never comes together with any clear story and is unsure of where to go with itself
The Ugly:
a main character that's way too unlikable to give a damn about 

Overall: 6.0/10


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At August 11, 2012 at 12:39 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

It sounds like this had the potential to be a really interesting movie and a fascinating character study, but it fell short. Even with what you said about Harrelson's great performance, I'll probably give this one a miss.

By the way, your photo captions cracked me up, and I really enjoy your sense of humor and your writing style. Glad I decided to follow your blog. :)

At August 11, 2012 at 3:36 PM , Blogger Nick said...

Thanks Stephanie! The film wouldn't be bad if you caught it on TV, but not worth looking for.

Glad you like the blog, keep on reading! :)

At August 12, 2012 at 7:58 AM , Blogger Benend said...

Rampart is a strange film. At times it meanders down the crime/drama route and a film about police corruption and violence would've been interesting.

But then there's an experimental, artsy side to the film. There just isn't much consistency.

Anyway, love your blog. Keep writing!

At August 16, 2012 at 10:55 AM , Blogger Sati. said...

Completely agree about the plot - it seemed like the film had a story but most of it was undisclosed to the viewer and honestly, for most of the time, I had no idea what to make out of certain scenes. The non-ending didn't help either. I really liked Harrelson and the opening and ending music though, plus the film was really nicely shot, especially the scene in the club.

At August 16, 2012 at 1:20 PM , Blogger Nick said...

Thank you. Yeah, it's really odd and doesn't really work. It's a shame because it has a lot of great parts (Harrelson, camerawork) but can never pull it together.

Thanks for the compliment! I certainly will keep on writing.

At August 16, 2012 at 1:21 PM , Blogger Nick said...

Yeah. If only the rest of the film was as good as Harrelson, then it could have been a mini masterpiece. Good point about the opening and end.. both solid.


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