During the fallout of the Rampart corruption scandal in the late 1990s, veteran police office Dave Brown is caught on camera viciously beating on a suspect. His life then spirals out of control as he tries his best to keep it all together.
Dave Brown is somewhat of a twisted fellow; he lives with his two exes who happen to be sisters and both of whom he has children with, he reportedly murdered a supposed serial date rapist, and he isn’t shy about whose bed he happens to fall into. To be honest, it’s hard to feel any kind of sympathy or empathy with Brown and as such, it’s sometimes difficult to care about what happens to him. There’s much more to his past (and his present) that we’re not shown and there are suggestions that his two exes aren’t the only members of the household he has ‘been close’ to. Again, this doesn’t sit well with a protagonist the film seems to want us to identify with.
Having said that, Woody Harrelson is excellent as usual. He worked with director Oren Moverman on The Messenger and it’s clear the two work well together. Moverman, on the other hand, does the film no favours with his constant use of over-the-top and disorientating camera techniques. Used in moderation they can be effective but the overuse is a little distracting. One particular scene featuring Harrelson, Sigourney Weaver and Steve Buscemi could have brilliant but the constantly revolving camera succeeds in only detracting from the dialogue.
Rampart isn’t a bad film, it’s just one that doesn’t really do anything new or go anywhere particularly interesting. However, the performances are generally solid, particularly from Harrelson who appears in every scene, but outside of that the film will unlikely stick in the memory.
Words: Chris Thomson