"The Most Corrupt Cop You've Ever Seen On Screen."
Rampart is a movie like many others. It's one of those dirty cop movies like Bad Lieutenant, that has been touched by many filmmakers for years and years from Werner Herzog to Don Siegel. Rampart doesn't do too much to distance itself from other films of its kind either. It seems perfectly content being just another character study of dirty, corrupt, violent, alcoholic, womanizing cop that has alienated his family with his misdeeds and bad publicity. With all that said, it really isn't a bad movie. It's just a familiar one that clings to Woody Harrelson and let's him make or break the movie. So it is a good thing that Harrelson was more than just excellent as Dave Brown, the most corrupt cop you've ever seen.
Dave Brown is a cop for the Rampart precinct in Los Angeles. Before becoming a cop, he fought in Vietnam and we get the feeling throughout that his tour of duty there fucked him up. He has two daughters that come from two different women, that just happen to be sisters. He's a womanizer going to bars to pick up women with low self esteems that would allow a guy like Brown to penetrate them. He's also facing legal actions as he deals with questioning over a shooting that he was involved in. Overall this plot is pretty tired, but it is uplifted by a phenomenal actor who is at the top of his game.
Oren Moverman takes a tiny step down after his near masterpiece, The Messenger. He uses both Woody Harrelson and Ben Foster(in a smaller role) again in Rampart. Harrelson brings it just like he did in The Messenger, but the overall film doesn't touch The Messenger. Moverman definitely has an eye for camera work and has a slick style that he likes to use. His films are engaging, but he could have used a little more substance out of this one.
This is a worthwhile movie though, no matter how unoriginal it all is. Seeing Harrelson as Dave Brown is all I really needed. It just would have been nice if I was given anything more than that. It has a respectable cast and has fine direction. It isn't going to blow you away by any means, but it has its impressive elements. I wouldn't tell anyone to seek this movie out, but if you get the opportunity to watch it; give it a look.
Nate's Grade: C
I'm fine with it being gritty and low budget, but the hand-held docu style camera work stood out for me, and I thought it was a little unnecessary. The plot follows old school Rampart cop and Vietnam vet Dave Brown as he patrols the mean streets of late 90s Los Angeles, dispensing his own brand of street justice, being the dirty cop whose does the dity work of the people. I'm fine with character studies about corrupt cops with unshakeable world views who are textbook Archie Bunker types (although Dave is actually scary and not at all funny), but it's been done before, and this film doesn't offer an interesting or fresh take on things.
Also, given how the film is set during the Rampart scandals where police corrption really came under scrutiny, the film doesn't do quite as much as it could. Instead, it just crusies around Taxi Driver style, but doesn't do anything all that thoguht provoking or engaging, and just kinda ends without anything really being accomplished.
I should really hate this film and dock it more for this sort of thing, but I'm havign a hard time, mostly because, despite the problems, the film still manages to deliver a stellar performance from Woody Harrelson as Dave. He's a great actor, yes, and this is one of his grittiest and meatiest roles. It's just kidna a bummer that the script and direction are so by the numbers. Maybe they were jsut expecting the character to carry the proceedings. Sometimes that sort of thing does work, and plot isn't all that necessary. But here, nothing is quite fleshed out enough for that to happen.
There's some other major names here, like Sigourneyt Weaver, Robin Wright, Ice Cube, Ned Beatty, Anne Heche, Cynthia Nixon, Steve Buscemi, and Ben Foster, and, while they all show up and do decently enough, none of them are really given all that much to do, so all of their combined talents just get kinda wasted and their appearances seem rather pointless.
I really wanted to like, if not love this film. But, it's just so underwhelming and unsatisfying that what good parts there are get overshadowed and dampened by all the rest. And, I can't help but feel like someone just wasn't trying, perhaps on purpose. Or maybe I'm wrong and this is just a sophmore slump sort of thing?
Regardless, this would be a lot worse and far less watchable if not for Harrelson being so hypnotic. Even then, this is still a rather blah misfire.
Director: Oren Moverman
Summary: Dave Brown is a dirty cop with a mile-wide mean streak. As he roams the streets meting out "justice," the LAPD sinks into a corruption scandal. The countdown to Brown's judgment is on in this fact-based film co-written by crime novelist James Ellroy.
My Thoughts: "There is a lot of players in this film. A variety of good talent. That is the best part of the movie is the performances. The performances outshine the story. It's not your usual cop story either. There isn't a lot of action, barely actually. This is no doubt a cop drama.The film revolves around a shady police officer, Dave Brown, who is being investigated for the murder of two, and the filmed beating of one. He justifies the things he has done by claiming he only killed the bad guys, only the bad ones. Brown's home life is just as much as a mess as his work life is. One daughter old enough to see her father for what he is and a younger one who is just learning who he is. It's sad when it comes to his daughter's. The anger the oldest one feels and the confusion by the youngest really pulls at your heart making you feel bad for them. Brown feels very much safe standing behind his badge that it is kinda satisfying watching a corrupt cop spiral down so quickly.
Woody Harrelson is a great actor and really brings life to this character. A great performance by him and everyone else in this film. A very talented cast."
In 1999, the Rampart division of the Los Angeles Police Force is rife with corruption. Amongst, the main culprits is 'Date Rape' Dave Brown (Woody Harrelson). He's a cop that plays by his own rules and lives by an old-school code. His reputation precedes him and is heightened even further when he's caught on video assaulting a driver who crashes into him. To try and thwart the attention of the media and ever increasing public frustration, his superiors suggest retirement. Dave refuses and attempts a legal case but it only draws him deeper into his murky past.
Three years previously, Woody Harrelson, Ben Foster and Steve Buscemi were all involved in Oren Moverman's brilliant directorial debut "The Messenger". They all assemble again for this but where Moverman showed a skilful subtlety in his debut, he decides to get a bit flashy with this one. That's his first mistake. He teases a powerful performance from Harrelson - like he did before - but he doesn't utilise Foster or Buscemi the way he should. That's his second mistake. And as if that's not enough, he has James Ellroy himself, co-writing the screenplay with him, yet the focus is on one character - rather than tapping into Ellroy's abilities in convoluted narrative arcs. Three strikes and you're out Oren. That being said though, the character of Dave Brown and Harrelson's strong central performance provide enough powerful material to hold your interest. There's a real intensity to the man and Harrelson delivers the perfect balance of a man teetering on the brink of the immorality. He received an Oscar nomination for "The Messenger" but I actually think this is a better performance. Moverman doesn't do him any favours though. He employs a flamboyant handheld approach that's so distracting that is verges on awful and it detracts from the drama. A good director shouldn't be noticed before his performers. Speaking of which, the supporting cast is impressively assembled but few get any substantial screen time, leaving the descent of Dave Brown the film's main focus, much in the same way as Harvey Keitel's "Bad Lieutenant". Where that film succeeded though was in having the courage of it's convictions. This threatens to but draws to a less than satisfactory conclusion.
If it wasn't for Harrelson, this film wouldn't have worked as well as it does. Moverman rightly received plaudits for his debut but he has gotten a bit ahead of himself here. Hopefully he'll learn his lesson for next time.
Not a horrible movie at all but nothing really original either. It is slow and never builds up to anything. When you think it is going to get good it falls flat and just drags on. The movie needed some better editing and sharper direction. Watch it if your a fan of Woody, if you aren't don't waste your time.
Dave Brown is a Los Angeles police officer who works out of the Rampart Division. Dave is misogynistic, racist, brutally violent, egotistical and a womanizer, although he defends himself against many of these accusations as he says that his hate is equal opportunity. However unlawful, he uses intimidation and brutal force to defend his ideals. The most notorious of his actions is purportedly murdering a suspected serial date rapist, which is why he has been given the nickname "Date Rape Dave". He lives with two of his ex-wives - sisters Barbara and Catherine - in an effort to keep family together, namely his two daughters, Helen and Margaret, who each have a different sister as their mother. Dave still maintains a sexual relationship with both sisters - whenever the mood suits any of them - while he openly has other sexual relationships. His life is put under a microscope after he is caught on video brutally beating a person with who he got into an automobile crash. This situation is made all the more difficult for the police department because of the Rampart scandal. This microscope shows a further potentially scandalous incident involving Dave and a grocery store hold-up. Although he secretly has his defenders within the police department highers-up, Dave, who is unrepentant regarding his actions, has to figure out who he can and cannot trust among his colleagues and new associates as he goes about his business and tries to protect his ideals from being taken away by these scandals.
Set in 1999 Los Angeles, veteran police officer Dave Brown, the last of the renegade cops, works to take care of his family, and struggles for his own survival.
Dirty cops happen in real life sometimes and in the movies quite often. It can be an intriguing subject to explore ... psychological demons, ego, power-mongering, etc. Typically we see it presented as a cop torn between doing the right thing and feeling like he is owed something. Rarely do we see a cop portrayed as beyond hope ... so far gone morally that redemption is no longer even a possibility. Writer James Ellroy (LA Confidential) and director Oren Moverman (The Messenger) present to us Officer Dave Brown, known to his fellow cops (and even his daughter) as "Date Rape" Dave. The moniker stems from a vice incident where Brown dished out street justice to a serial date rapist. With no proof of his guilt, Brown remained on the force and his rogue manner has escalated to the point where he is a constant danger to himself and others. This guy has no moral filter for everyday living.
Officer Brown is played with searing intensity by a Woody Harrelson you have never before seen. As loathsome a character as you will ever find, you cannot take your eyes off of him. Somehow he has daughters by two sisters and they all live together in a messed up commune where hate is the secret word of the day, every day. Most of the time no one speaks to Dave except to tell him to "get out". He spends his off hours drinking, smoking, doing drugs and having meaningless sex. Heck, that's just about how he spends his time while on duty as well. Still, as terrific as Harrelson is, and as deep as the cast is, the film is just too one note and downbeat and hopeless to captivate a viewer. I also found some of Moverman's camera work to be quite distracting and the sex club scene was pure overkill. Downward spiral is much too neutral a term to describe this character and ultimately, that prevents the film from delivering any type of message.
Question: If someone told you a film wasn't very "Hollywood", would you think that was a good thing or a bad thing? My answer is, immediately, it's a great thing! I just finished watching Rampart and it definitely was not a "Hollywood" film at all. I live for these independent films because they are not usually bound by any box or restriction. Independent films breathe new life into us film-lovers because original ideas are put forth to allow the audience to experience different, authentic and artistic views.
On the flip-side, when a film isn't set in the typical cadence of the formulaic system we see day in and day out cranked out by Hollywood studios there can be an uneasiness to the storytelling. Again, is that a good thing or a bad thing? I think you might know my answer on that one. However, it can turn mass audiences away or the film finds a hard time getting decent marketing. Many big studios produce movies just to make money and I don't blame them for wanting that, but it leaves a sort of disingenuous haze all over the story. But studios want to make money; filmmakers want to put their vision on film; and as movie-goers we want to see a good story told in different and adventurous ways. Therefore, the non-Hollywood movies are the type of films that people need to see more of because life simply doesn't have a formula and neither should all films.
In the case of Rampart, the filmmakers took a chance and thought outside the Hollywood movie-making realm, and the approach they took to tell the story worked. The uneasiness I mentioned earlier was present in this film and it worked here because what the filmmaker was trying to achieve wasn't an easy or pretty story - it was about a dark, morally corrupt man who must face his demons but refuses to due to hubris.
Rampart stars Woody Harrleson in probably his least likable character ever but probably why I enjoyed this film. It's very difficult to create a character so layered that you aren't sure what your exact opinion is of him. Although you love to hate Dave Brown (Woody Harrelson) because he is a racist, womanizer, power-fueled LA police officer who abuses the system for his gain, there were actually qualities, small nuances, to his character that made you like him as well. It was disconcerting but, again, that is why I enjoyed this film.
For the rest of the movie, the other characters were incidental and you just view them as obstacles that get pummeled by Dave Brown as he passes through the world. There wasn't enough time to get to know them but I think that was done on purpose. Even the part about Dave Brown and his actions that initially gets himself in trouble is secondary. Rampart is about the main character's impenetrable defenses that don't allow him to see his faults and in turn causes him to spiral down into an abyss of self-destruction; which, to me, represented a closer reflection of real people and their flaws than other movies have attempted in a longtime. It isn't pretty but it is authentic.
There are enough films that get us from point A to point B and wrap it up in a nice pretty bow by the end that we are happy when we leave the theatre. But film is an art form, and in all art forms there are artists that push the envelope, make you think and leaving you pondering what you just witnessed. These are the films that more people should see. Rampart is one of those films that pushes the envelope open and doesn't close it tight for you - especially with Woody Harrelson's character and the consequences surrounding him. See this film for that alone. Well done.
My favorite thing: The dialogue Dave Brown had when he was defending himself - some brilliant writing there.
My least favorite thing: Got a little dizzy during one scene but I think that was the point - Merry-go-round camera work.
Directed (and co-written) by Oren Moverman, Lightstream Pictures, 2011
Starring: Woody Harrelson, Ben Foster , Robin Wright, Sigourney Weaver, Cynthia Nixon, Anne Heche, Ice Cube, Steve Buscemi, and Ned Beatty.
Genre: Crime, Drama.
Length: 108 minutes
Review: 6 out of 10
Note: Check out Lightstream Pictures philosophy - perfectly put!
Don't know much about the Rampart scandal accept it involved lots of dirty crooked cops in LA who were also connected with gangsters, drugs, robbery etc...all the good stuff. I was slightly wrong in my assumption about the film at first, I expected lots of hood beatings and evidence planting amidst crack downs and underground gang warfare etc...not much of that, nothing in fact.
This isn't a huge issue though as the film is actually a very strong emotional rollercoaster for Harrelson's character as his job comes under threat for his wayward actions, his family lose faith in him and start to see him as a brutal cop whilst all the time things get worse as he continues with his shady actions to try and get money to pay for lawyers to save his job.
The film does become quite depressing as his downbeat situation gets worse, you do feel for the guy especially if you work in the same kind of role as Harrelson's character for real, its very close to reality as 'the company' take the citizens side and try to load everything on the single cop. You know he has bad judgement or over reaction but you also feel he doesn't do it maliciously.
I think the term 'hidden gem' covers this film for sure, find it and watch.
Like Moverman's previous film, "The Messenger," "Rampart" stars Woody Harrelson. It's nice to see Harrelson turning into something of a muse for Moverman. Harrelson isn't as transcendent here as he was in "The Messenger," but he is very good.
He plays a 1980s-style LAPD officer weirdly lingering on in an unreconstructed way well into the 1990s. He even has his own Rodney King-style controversy on his hands, when a brutal beating he perpetrates on a Mexican man is caught on video tape.
The interesting thing is that gradually it starts to appear that the entire thing was a set-up. Harrelson's character may have been in a sense entrapped. Who would have the motive and the ability to orchestrate something so elaborate? Questions like this are never answered, which is a bit disappointing. But they are posed in interesting, evocative ways.
The screenplay was co-written by Moverman and novelist James Ellroy ("L.A. Confidential"). I appreciate that Ellroy wanted to be less straightforward with this project, hinting at things more than spelling everything out. But it doesn't work that well. The sketchiness of the story mixed with Moverman's somewhat meandering directorial approach makes for a cinematic experience that isn't completely fulfilling.
But so much about "Rampart" works beautifully, including the phenomenally talented supporting cast that includes Robin Wright, Sigourney Weaver, and Ned Beatty. "Rampart" is not quite a must-see, but it's damn close.