Rampart (2011) Directed by Oren Moverman. With Woody Harrelson, Ned Beatty, Sigourney Weaver, Robin Wright and Ben Foster.
If I were assessing Rampart on strength of its performances alone, then we might be discussing a potential film of the year. Unfortunately in this case, it’s one of those frustrating experiences that offers much, yet delivers oh-so little.
Woody Harrelson is excellent as a dirty cop in late 1990’s, post-Rodney King Los Angeles, where tensions are sky high. The film follows his character ‘Date Rape Dave’, a bigoted, egotistical, misogynistic, womanising bully – and how amidst everything he claims to love going down the toilet, stays true and faithful in his dedication to being a grade-A morally bankrupt ass.
It’s a pity that the film lets Harrelson down so badly. As his family and colleagues gradually turn against him, there are attempts to create moments of pathos, however it’s hard to summon sympathy, leaving the intended emotional scenes (although well acted) as cold and numbing to the viewer as ‘Date Rape Dave’s’ estranged loved ones feel toward him.
Some of the direction is good, then at times a little more wayward. One noisy night club scene in which we see Dave silhouetted against a red backdrop hints at a descent into hell, but comes off indulgent and obvious. Rampart is also blessed with a seasoned supporting cast featuring the likes of Ned Beatty, Sigourney Weaver and Robin Wright, all of who give solid turns deserving of a better overall film.
This is a film that tries to get inside the head of a man who knows what he is and refuses to change but in the end, there is nothing learned and little to draw on other than fine acting. It isn’t a terrible film, neither is it a terribly good one. In short, something of a cop-out. 2/5