“Rampart” is one of those independent movies that gets a decent amount of buzz but never quite breaks free of orbit … or even shows up in theaters in most towns.
Woody Harrelson was thought to have a decent shot at an Oscar nomination for his brutal, mesmerizing performance as an L.A. cop whose corruption goes down to the bone.
But in a year in which Leonardo DiCaprio, Ryan Gosling and Michael Fassbender got snubbed, it wasn’t surprising that a little-seen crime drama was overlooked.
It is indeed hard to take your eyes off of Harrelson, although the film itself is a little disjointed at times.
It also has one of those unfortunate endings that’s supposed to seem ambiguous and “arty,” but feels like the movie just arbitrarily stops.
Set in 1999, “Rampart” is the story of Dave Brown, the original dinosaur cop. He’s a racist, violent throwback and he knows it; he just happens to think back in his daddy’s day was better. He drinks on the job, extorts favors from businesses, shoots suspects and then plants weapons on them, and every other dirty trick you’ve ever heard of.
After a quarter-century of bad deeds on the force, Dave gets in serious trouble after a random auto accident ends in him viciously beating a man, the whole thing caught on video and played endlessly on television.
As the noose draws slowly but inevitably tighter around his neck, Dave gets more and more desperate, and woe to anyone who gets in his way.
Director and co-writer Oren Moverman seems to be in the Woody Harrelson business; his first feature behind the camera was the acclaimed “The Messenger,” which did get an Academy Award nomination for Harrelson and its screenplay.
Video extras are not bad. There’s a feature-length commentary track by Moverman, interviews with the cast and crew and a handful of behind-the-scenes featurettes.
Film: 3.5 Yaps
Extras: 4 Yaps