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Reviews
STAR RATINGS EXPLAINED
Unmissable 5 Stars
Excellent 4 Stars
Good 3 Stars
Poor 2 Stars
Tragic 1 Star

POSTER ART
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FILM DETAILS
Certificate
15
Cast
Ben Foster
Woody Harrelson
Ice Cube
Sigourney Weaver
Anne Heche
Robin Wright
Steve Buscemi
Cynthia Nixon.
Directors
Oren Moverman.
Screenwriters
James Ellroy
Oren Moverman.
Running Time
108 minutes

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Rampart
Putting the 'beat' into beat cop since 1999


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Plot
'Date Rape' Dave Brown (Harrelson) is an old-school cop in the corruption-riven Rampart Division of Los Angeles of 1999. After his car is rammed, he's caught on video assaulting the culprit, but refuses to be forced into retirement. The legal fight costs him, though, and to try and clear himself, Dave must first sink deeper...


Review
Rampart
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The last time writer/director Oren Moverman and Woody Harrelson worked together, Harrelson garnered critical acclaim and an Oscar nom in a film that barely smudged the box office. The same looks likely with their latest collaboration, Rampart, although James Ellroy’s co-scripting credit and the dirty-LAPD milieu (what else did you expect from Ellroy?) might fill a few more seats than 2009’s military drama The Messenger.

It’s oft-covered territory: the sunbleached streets of Los Angeles, trodden by racist beat cops who see law enforcement as war and brutality, shakedowns and evidence-planting as just a few means to which the end is justified. As well as a good way to line their own pockets. In this case that cop is ‘Date Rape’ Dave Brown (Harrelson), who misses the days when “this used to be a glorious soldiers’ department” and who’ll dispense to a rookie such advice as “aim for the shortest wetback, watch them skedaddle”. We hardly ever see him eat (for Dave a family meal involves whispered come-ons to both his exes, who happen to be home-sharing sisters and each a mother to his two daughters), but he drinks, smokes and snaffles behind-the-counter pills to excess.

The late ’90s Rampart scandal, which gives the film its title, is mere backdrop. The actual plot is thin. Date Rape is filmed beating a man and sinks into debt fighting his case while mothballed skeletons rattle noisily, but if Moverman’s film benefits from the acid tang of Ellroy’s dialogue, it lacks the juggernauting plot-thrust of his novels.

It’s more a character study and a performance workshop, with Harrelson in every scene. And it’s an undeniably impressive performance; not so much a study of evil as of a weakling who confuses his anachronistic tendencies with strength, the bully who sees himself as victim, “the one cop who gets it”. In Harrelson’s hands Brown is a compelling mess of spilled testosterone.

You wonder, though, if Moverman has as much faith as he should in his lead. Rampart is so fussily directed, a stuffed scrapbook of skewed angles, odd framing and jarring cuts. One potentially great scene — putting Harrelson, Sigourney Weaver and Steve Buscemi around one table — suffers an irritatingly spinning dizzyvision camera. The intention may well be to encourage us to see the world much as Date Rape does: wrongly. But it distracts rather than complements and can’t cover up the fact that, Harrelson’s towering turn aside, we’re not really watching anything new here.


Verdict
A familiar story oddly presented, but with a powerful central performance from Woody Harrelson.


Reviewed by Dan Jolin


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Empire Star Rating

RE: Rampart

Possibly one of Woody Harrelson's best performances for some time, maybe ever, as a dirty excessive cop whose actions are caught on tape and must face the consequences. The main theme behind the plot is its setting just after or during the 'Rampart scandal' of the late 1990's. 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 abo... More

Posted by Phubbs at 08:07, 04 April 2012 | Report This Post


RE: Rampart

Really fancy this one. Shame nowhere wants to show it. Bloody multiplexes... ... More

Posted by film man aidy at 12:45, 18 March 2012 | Report This Post


RE: Rampart

Certainly gonna catch this one, in spite of the lukewarm review. ... More

Posted by Kazuya at 19:20, 17 March 2012 | Report This Post


RE: Rampart

Certainly gonna catch this one, in spite of the lukewarm review. ... More

Posted by Kazuya at 19:20, 17 March 2012 | Report This Post


RE: Rampart Review

L: mackey Given the subject matter, comparisons to 'Training Day' and 'The Shield' are inevitable but a tad misleading. Whereas that film & series offered up twists and robust action according to conventional thriller guidelines, 'Rampart' eschews propulsive narrative in favour intense character study. This approach may off putting to those expecting more bang for their buck but overall it's an extremely rewarding watch. There are a few unnecessarily obtuse camera angles which take ... More

Posted by UTB at 13:19, 15 March 2012 | Report This Post


RE: Rampart Review

Given the subject matter, comparisons to 'Training Day' and 'The Shield' are inevitable but a tad misleading. Whereas that film & series offered up twists and robust action according to conventional thriller guidelines, 'Rampart' eschews propulsive narrative in favour intense character study. This approach may off putting to those expecting more bang for their buck but overall it's an extremely rewarding watch. There are a few unnecessarily obtuse camera angles which take the viewer out of t... More

Posted by mackey at 21:41, 11 March 2012 | Report This Post


Rampart Review

Through a rightfully heartbreaking narrative Rampart succeeds in providing both scenes convincing us that Brown is human, as well as scenes justifying the disciplinary meetings and family break-ups that occur throughout the film. Harrelson's phenomenal performance holds this otherwise slow movie together, with the help of the entire supporting cast. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by DaleLawson at 14:32, 11 March 2012 | Report This Post


Worst film I've seen in 2 years

Trailer made it look like Training Day. Was actually pretencious wankery of the highest order. Rarley checked my watch more in a cinema You will not believe the ending!! ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by david hayes at 17:59, 02 March 2012 | Report This Post


Harrelson is good, but only really gets going in the final act. Given that Ellroy wrote this, it doesn't really have any memorable dialogue. Iffy direction. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by tysmuse at 21:04, 25 February 2012 | Report This Post


Will be watching

Been looking forward to this for a while now. Harrelson is a compelling and charismatic screen presence. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by SeanJenkins1 at 16:02, 20 February 2012 | Report This Post


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