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Review: Rampart

March 27, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 144

Being a member of law enforcement can be stressful to say the least. Sometimes the stress from this line of work can be carried over to your personal life. When that occurs, it doesn't only enter your life, but it also enters the lives of those closest to you. As shown in the film Rampart, those issues mixed with rage, racism and other things can do a lot of damage to you, your family and even people who just happen to be in the wrong at the wrong time.

Officer Dave Brown (Woody Harrelson) is a cop from the Rampart Precinct in Los Angeles, California. He dishes out his own version of justice and has no problems going over the line to do what he feels is his duty. His actions get him into deep trouble when he's recorded beating a suspect in what looks to fall in line with police brutality. This not only presents new issues for him and the people in his personal life, but also for the entire police department and the people who want to see cops like Dave Brown taken down.

Rampart features some very strong performances with Harrelson leading the way with his powerful display of acting. He does a fantastic job of playing a paranoid and demented racist cop who does more than just blur the line between good and bad. He's definitely dirty and crosses the line whenever he wants and with no hesitation. Harrelson manages to display these traits effectively and make this character as realistic as one could although, some parts of the story seem a little far-fetched.

Rampart is carried by the actors in the early going and that appeared like it was going to be what saved the movie from dying at times. That all changed when the film starts to focus on the story and it gains structure because of this. The layout of Rampart eventually catches up with the acting to make for an emotionally charged movie.

We find out early on that Officer Dave Brown is a Vietnam vet turned cop who may have some psychological problems. These problems have directly affected his personal life and the relationships with the people in it. He's been divorced twice and has two daughters as a result of those failed marriages. The relationship with one of his daughters is fine, but his relationship with the other is turbulent to say the least. We witness many of the flaws in his life from the start and things gradually shift over to his professional life as a member of the L.A.P.D.

Once the film focuses on Brown's professional life as a police officer, we're able to get to the meat of the story. The audience is shown how his tactics, decisions and beliefs put him in the negative position that he's in and also some of the results of these actions. Despite the walls of justice seemingly having the potential to completely close in on him, he remains defiant due to being extremely hard-headed and delusional person. Needless to say, being hard-headed doesn't exactly make things easier for him either. He has his own views on life and won't let anyone change his mind. The actions of Officer Brown and the results that come afterward is what eventually drives the movie.

Harrelson brilliantly handles the portrayal of this character and does so with ease. His performance allows the audience to truly see who Brown is. You know he's not a good guy and they never try to pass him off as anything except a dirty cop with psychopathic tendencies. Mixing his character in with some normal people and people that he's had a negative affect on highlights his flaws and deficiencies as a human being.

The movie in general is filled with negative emotions across the board and you never feel sorry for any of the characters. There's not much sadness to be had in Rampart anyway. The emotion is either from anger, hatred, frustration and/or flat-out disgust from the many people involved.

Harrelson, and to a lesser extent the other actors are the reason why this movie succeeds. That's important, because some of the other stuff is kind of flat every once in a while early on. To make up for the film's flaws, it uses quite a few characters to tell this story from different perspectives and gradually brings them in and out while keeping the focus on its main character. Rampart is an aggressive drama that plays off of the raw emotion of the people that we see on-screen. In the end, I would have to classify this as a character study more than anything else. I believe that was the primary purpose of this movie and it accomplished just that.

Score: 3/5

Rating: R

Director: Oren Moverman

Cast: Woody Harrelson Ned Beatty Sigourney Weaver Ice Cube Ben Fister Cynthia Nixon Anne Heche Brie Larson Robin Wright Audra McDonald

Film Length: 107 minutes

Release Date: February 10, 2012

Distributor: Millenium Entertainment

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