Corruption within a police department is one thing, but in Rampart, the focus is on one character and seeing how it takes place through his eyes. Taking place in 1999, in the Rampart division of the LAPD, Oren Moverman’s film follows Officer David Brown (Woody Harrelson), a man who plays by his own rules without thought of the consequences of his actions until it’s time to cover them up. This may imply comedy, but it’s far from it. The officer uses any means “necessary” to subdue suspects, often including violence, and during one of these altercations, it’s captured on video. After it comes out, Brown’s complete lack of remorse causes his world to spiral out of control in his professional and personal life.
Woody Harrelson is unsettling as the corrupt officer; not only for his violent “interrogation” techniques or his verbal abuse, but for his complete lack of any moral standards. This is a man that has no agenda. He’s not trying to take over the world or out for revenge. He’s simply a man who indulges in any emotion (whether it be anger or passion) without restraint or thought of consequence. He makes no apologies because he does not see anything he does as being “wrong.” What’s most terrifying is that he is an officer of the law and a father.
The colors in the scenes are slightly off with tones of orange and red being the most prominent and enhanced. These colors evoke a sense of tension and combined with the hand-held style camera movements, the sense of unease never shakes throughout the film.
Even though the officer (Harrelson) is in every scene, the film is not told through his perspective, however, it still gives incredible insight into his psyche. The most revealing parts about his personality are found through the people close to him. His home situation is non-traditional, as the mothers (Anne Heche & Cynthia Nixon) of his two daughters are sisters and live in the house next to him. These are not meek women, either, as he clearly needs someone to constantly challenge him. The rest of the supporting cast also strengthens the film, though their screen times may be short. Ben Foster makes a surprising appearance (almost unrecognizable actually) and Robin Wright gives a much more powerful performance than in the recent The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.
Audiences might not connect with the film, but it’s told from such a unique perspective that it’s worth the watch. Woody Harrelson should have been nominated for SOMETHING, but seems to have missed out because of this release date.
Like his character in Rampart, Woody Harrelson had his own PR nightmare when he went on Reddit.com for an AMA (Ask Me Anything) this last Friday, February 3, 2012. Instead of focusing on the film (as it would seem he was expecting), right away, he was asked personal questions which lead to Harrelson stating he was there to promote his film. This obviously contradicts the “Ask Me Anything” forum, and so the fun began. Like his character, he was completely thrown off guard and got defensive immediately. It’s funny how life can imitate art, and vice versa.
Rating: A tough watch, but very powerful. 7/10