A compelling performance from Woody Harrelson can't quite support the weight of this cop drama
At this rate, Woody Harrelson should keep Oren Moverman on a retainer. The director guided Harrelson to an Oscar nomination in 2009’s The Messenger. And their latest collaboration Rampart sees the actor on similarly searing form. Set in 1999, he plays Dave Brown, a racist, bigoted cop in the Rampart division of the Los Angeles police force, whose life spirals out of control when he’s caught on video brutally beating a suspect.
Penned by L.A. Confidential author James Ellroy, Rampart isn’t quite what you’d expect. The real-life ‘Rampart’ scandal saw 70 LAPD officers implicated for misconduct. Yet this is no Serpico style-exposé, focusing instead on one man’s private/public disintegration. The philandering Brown’s domestic arrangements just add to the intrigue; he lives with two sisters (Anne Heche, Cynthia Nixon), who have each sired him a daughter.
Featuring stunning support (Ben Foster as a meth head; Robin Wright as a lawyer-lover), Rampart never quite exceeds the sum of its admittedly impressive parts. The wider picture remains fuzzy, perhaps because Harrelson’s virtuoso performance is really all that’s there. Compelling certainly, but could’ve been ever better.
Selected release from Fri 24 Feb.