Rampart – 3/5 – Movie Reviews by Ry!

rampartRampart – 3/5 – This is a review for a film that came out a few years ago.   This film centers on the story of the Rampart division of the LAPD, specifically on the down fall of Dave Brown.  For all the brutality this film captures, the general focus is on this man and his psychological breakdown.  Overall, Rampart is a film that has a strong premise, but by the end, it becomes a story with missed opportunities.

Premise: Set in Los Angeles, a veteran police officer is the last of the renegade cops.  As his actions become an obvious stain on the department, the officer becomes blinded by his ambition, as he heads into a downward spiral, as he struggles for his own survival in this changing world.

The focus of this film surrounds veteran police officer, Dave Brown.  This character is played by Woody Harrelson.  In this role, Harrelson provides a man who is harden by the job, causing him to take justice in his own hands, wrongly.  Through the films proceedings, these actions begin to lead to complication in his life, both professionally and personally. Harrelson does a fine job in providing raw human characteristic, as the character tries to justify his means, through confrontations with the police department, family, and even his on the side girlfriend(s).  Even when he is conflicted with the blindness of the truth, he hides behind the badge, marking every action as a worthy action.  Harrelson charm and attitude helps bring a facade of believability, as his character is so obstructive, you find his performance to be real, as you feel the brutality, while also watching him stain the honor that is to serve the community.  His performance brings out the darkest aspect of the human mind; blurring the lines of his negative acts as positive dealings.  The layers of a man, combined with the themes of power, racism and corruption helps makes this character deep, divisive, but emotional involving for the audience.  His acting is the driving force behind this film.   Outside of his performance in this distinctive individual, everyone else are just one-dimensional characters.   There are some notable names in this film, like Ben Foster as General Terry (handicap homeless man), Jon Bernthal as Dan Morone, Anne Heche as Catherine, Sigourney Weaver as Rampart head Joan Confrey, Steve Buscemi as Bill Blago and Ice Cube as DA agent Kyle Timkins.  Each of these people’s performance is according to the role, but don’t provide enough value to make them important.  They help provide aspects of Dave Brown’s life, but are more of pawns helping define Dave Brown, instead of layering both his character and the film’s themes.

The direction of the films focuses on two things:

The life of Dave Brown

The corruptive tactics of a police department (LAPD)

In the beginning, we are introduced to both at the same time.  We see as Dave Brown is a renowed cop (because of a previous incident years ago) and is very staunch in using harsh brutality against anyone, even if their innocent.  The film does very well introducing both these elements, while at the same time keeping the focus steady with paring both.  The ‘abuse of power’ is seen profoundly through Dave Brown, as you watch him commits these acts throughout the film.  At the same time, we watch as the ‘character’ Dave Brown is blinded by these actions, as his humility of his personal life is confined to a closet, and his strength of having a badge is more important; as it affects his delusional beliefs.  Eventually, Dave’s acts began to flood into the public arena, causing a trickle down affect on both sides of his life; his career with the police department and his family life.  The film then begins to mold into one linear storyline, as both things become one.  Brown begins to struggle to stay staunch in his efforts to ‘clean’ the city because he blinds reality; believing his own ‘righteous’ vigilante motives aren’t racially or egotistically influenced.  After the second incident, the film becomes a complete character piece, focusing on the mental breakdown of Dave Brown.  As he begins to become emotional distraught, we watch as Dave starts to ruin each of his relationships in the film.  This is when the film slows to an obvious methodical pacing, causing the dull moments of the linear directions to rear its ugly head.  This part of the film should have been the most heartfelt, but because everything portrayed in the film is cliché elements of ‘obstruction of justice’ and common ‘thugs and racial divides’ (minus Harrelson’s acting) you become bored instead of being encapsulated by the moments.  Each scene becomes a ‘worst case’ scenario aspect of life.  All of the scenes begin to mimic each other, as substance fades away.  Once the end happens, it is so abrupt; you feel as if the director didn’t know how to end the film.  You are left to wonder what will happen to Dave Brown and the rest of his life.

The visuals are not noteworthy, but if you want to know, they use a general setup of ‘Los Angeles’ to provide the backdrop for this story.  The score is completely absent, but that doesn’t derail the film, as the pacing is the culprit.

Overall, Rampart is a great character piece, that falls apart becomes of pacing, repetitive themes and wooden supporting characters.  Woody Harrelson is great as Dave Brown, as his performance kept the film from being bad.  If you’re looking for a film to pass the time, or a fan of Harrelson, check this out.  It is a rental at best

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