Review: Rampart

Like many people in the UK, I was unfamiliar of the Rampart Scandal that faced L.A. in the late 1990s - which was essentially a response to the widespread cases of police misconduct and corruption. Rampart plunges us right in the centre of this setting, with Woody Harrelson playing Dave Brown, a dirty L.A. cop, facing action against his unscrupulous behaviour. Oren Moverman directs and co-writes the screenplay, alongside James Ellroy (L.A. Confidential). 

The main success of Rampart is Woody Harrelson's lead performance. This is a truly disgusting character, but one cannot deny that Harrelson brings a certain charm to the role, completely commanding the screen. Moverman and Ellroy have clearly spent more time writing this flawed character, than they have the narrative - we want to know the motive behind Dave Brown's behaviour - this is a man who openly states "I'm not racist, I hate everyone equally'. Seeing Brown's gradual breakdown from a bullying enforcer to someone pushed to near self-destruction is a reasonably gripping watch.

The story itself does not fare so well. It simply lacks coherence and structure - even the ending feels abrupt, lacking any real closure. Perhaps it's Ellroy's intention to leave us questioning whether this man deserves/or will receive redemption - but I personally think most viewers will feel short changed. Rampart feels like it is just skimming the edges of something near brilliant, never delving far enough into the story to even be classed as a memorable watch. These scripting issues mean that the message of Rampart feels lost and you may wonder what you were meant to take out from this experience.

Despite these narrative issues, Moverman's direction is visually striking, delivering on the gritty 1990s heated LA atmosphere. One particular scene where Brown visits a seedy club is an intense showcase for Moverman's skill as a director - with chilling visuals, pulsing lights and explosions of sound.

Praise should also go to a truly magnificent supporting cast featuring a handful of undeniably talented stars including Ned Beatty, Sigourney Weaver, Robin Wright, Cynthia Nixon, Ben Foster, Anne Heche and a very underused Steve Buscemi.

Despite a stirring lead performance from Harrelson and focus as an intense character study, Rampart's script is lacking a real punch which can lead to it becoming somewhat tedious. There are a variety of impressive visuals and exciting supporting performances to occasionally raise your interest, but this cannot save the film.

woody harrelson 8993886176464016684

Post a Comment


Home item


Culture Fix Content


Follow Us

Like Us

Track of the Week

Album of the Week

Album of the Week

Blog Archive