Saturday, January 7, 2012

Rampart (2011)

"Rampart," starring Woody Harrleson and Robin Wright-Penn is set in Los Angles in 1999, right at the height of the notorious scandal that rocked the LAPD where numerous officers were implicated in cases of police brutality and misconduct. One fact is crystal clear; Officer Brown is on a path of self destruction from the very start of the film. 

Harrelson, in the leading role, plays the character of Veteran LAPD Officer Dave Brown. Brown is street-hardened, old school cop who is both hated and loved by his peers on the job. His old school ways of thinking are becoming the sort of thing that the LAPD is no longer in a position to tolerate, as it is being exposed in numerous cases of police misconduct. Brown is racist and a bigot who thinks that he can do no wrong and feels that his conduct is a justifiable means to take criminals off the streets.  Living with his two ex-wives (who happen to be sisters) and his two daughters, the viewer sees how Harrleson's character destroys his personal relationships piece by piece. His personal life crumbles even more with his tumultuous relationship a lawyer (Penn.)  Officer Brown is suddenly thrust into the misconduct spotlight when a video camera catches him beating a person who just crashed into him while driving in his police cruiser.

Harrison's performance is strong and gritty, but the film lacks overall momentum. The narrative of the story seems to be all over the place. The numerous sub plots seem like they are going to connect at some point or another, but never do. The film has several notable appearances of famous actors (Steve Buscemi, Sigourney Weaver, Ice Cube, even Ned Beatty) but their characters never seem to materialize to their true potential. Director Owen Moverman, who also directed Harrleson in "The Messenger," really hits the mark with Harrleson's character, but failed to take the film any farther than that. If you are looking to watch the very talented skills of Woody Harrleson, then you will get your money's worth...but not if you are looking to watch a good police drama.

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