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Rampart

Rampart

Released 24 February 2012
Director Oren Moverman
Starring

Woody Harrelson, Ice Cube, Sigourney Weaver, Anne Heche
Writer(s) James Ellroy, Oren Moverman
Producer(s)

Laurence Inglee, Ben Foster, Kan Kao, Clark Peterson
Origin United States
Running Time 108 minutes
Genre Crime, drama
Rating 16
78

Over and out.

I make no qualms in admitting the fact that I'm a Woody Harrelson fan. He has measurably matured as an actor since his youthful days on the TV series Cheers and has developed as a talent that portrays a wide diverse range of characters. In Rampart, Harrelson is magnificent on screen – arguably one of his best performances to date – but, ironically, that is both the success and the downfall of this character-driven crime drama.

Set in the immediate aftermath of the Rampart Scandal, where dozens of LAPD cops were accused of widespread corruption in the late 1990s, Dave Brown is a hard-nosed, twenty-five year veteran of the force that has, until now, survived the public embarrassment despite being as crooked as they come. As he struggles to balance his complicated family life with the prospect of losing the only familiar thing he has ever known – the job – we see a man, scene by scene, crumble into a shadow of his former glorious self.

It is very difficult to root for Brown because nearly everything he does is the epitome of a wrong choice made but there is something fervently real about how Harrelson portrays his character's spiralling demise. With each attempt to get himself out of trouble, using the dated methods that got his former Rampart colleagues into their own strife, Brown finds himself further away from redemption and closer to being the scapegoat story that his department is desperate to make of him to ease their own political pain.

The support cast led by Ice Cube, Sigourney Weaver and Robin Wright is excellent, as are the four women that make up his dysfunctional family and the impressively sincere interactions made between Harrelson and the other protagonists. However, because of the fact that Brown is in nearly every scene, we are left yearning for more from each of the encounters as his various relationships in the story inconsistently rattle back and forth.

That said, it is hard to envisage the movie being as effective without the powerful, authoritarian role possessed by its anchor so it is a bit of a double-edged sword. Either way, Rampart is a fascinating look at the aftermath of one of L.A.'s most controversial periods and the difficulty for those in power that refuse to change with the times.

- David Caulfield