Sunday, March 11, 2012
In Theaters: RAMPART (2011)
(US - 2011)
Directed by Oren Moverman. Written by James Ellroy and Oren Moverman. Cast: Woody Harrelson, Robin Wright, Steve Buscemi, Sigourney Weaver, Ben Foster, Ice Cube, Ned Beatty, Anne Heche, Cynthia Nixon, Brie Larson, Audra McDonald, Jon Bernthal, Jon Foster, Francis Capra, Robert Wisdom. (R, 108 mins)
Oren Moverman's follow-up to his acclaimed 2009 film THE MESSENGER unfortunately falls into the "sophomore slump" category, despite a raw, riveting performance from Woody Harrelson. The problem with RAMPART is that Harrelson's performance is all it has, and as great as it is, it can't carry the whole film, which plays like you're fast-forwarding through a season of THE SHIELD. Dealing with the corrupt escapades of a bitter, racist, sexist, homophobic, misanthropic, hard-drinking, chain-smoking, womanizing, control-freak (did I miss anything?) LAPD cop in post-Rampart Scandal 1999, RAMPART begs the question: Why this story? Why now? Why? Don't look for answers. There are none, and aside from Harrelson's searing portrayal, RAMPART is an almost total misfire.
Badass cop "Date Rape" Dave Brown (Harrelson), so nicknamed for a 1997 incident when he committed the premeditated murder of a known serial date-rapist (yet Internal Affairs doesn't have enough to charge him) is every bad image you can conjure of the LAPD (see above). A bit of a celebrity with other cops, Dave's personal life is strange, to say the least. His two ex-wives (Anne Heche, Cynthia Nixon) are sisters who live next door to each other, and Dave lives in a bungalow in one of the backyards. Each ex has a daughter by him, so the half-sisters are also first cousins. When he can't get some casual sex from either ex, he picks women up at bars. Still hounded by the date-rapist incident on a daily basis, Dave finds himself in a media shitstorm when he's videotaped beating a black man who plowed into his squad car and tried to run away. Faced with mounting pressure from the department, the D.A.'s office, and his own lawyers, cash-strapped Dave gets a tip and tries to bust up an illegal card game and take the loot for himself, but he ends up killing a man and planting a gun on him. Then things really start to go bad.