Rampart (2012): Woody Harrelson turns a bit nasty

Will Murphy reviews Oren Moverman’s new cop drama.

l Rampart film review


Set in 1999 Los Angeles, veteran police officer Dave Brown (Woody Harrelson), the last of the renegade cops, works to take care of his family, and struggles for his own survival.
He’s got countless girlfriends, (each of which he has highly aggressive sex with at some point in the film), and not a shred of morality, which is evident right from the get-go, when Brown insists that his weight weary female apprentice ‘finish the fuckin’ fries if you wanna make captain’. Pretty uncomfortable stuff.
Harrelson is brilliant, and is fantastically convincing as bastard Dave Brown, which is in turn nicely complimented by Oren Moverman’s direction. Every shot looks as though its been taken from a police surveillance archive; looking through windows, and shooting from distance and hidden spots makes the film feel weirdly voyeuristic.
The subject matter is pretty explicit: a lot of sex, a lot of violence, and a hell of a lot of bad language; but we see it, warts and all, and we can’t help but be taken in. one directorial faux pas: the camera pans in the conference scene might make you feel a bit queasy.
This is a cop drama, but it's no action movie. Its introspective and personal, but it's not sympathetic. It's by no means a nice film, so perhaps enjoyment is the wrong thing to look for here. Just expect to be shocked and compelled in equal measure.
Rampart hits cinemas on the 24th of February.