Oren Moverman follows up his emotionally draining film The Messenger, starring Ben Foster and Woody Harrelson, with a cop drama called Rampart. This time the two men have swapped roles, with Harrelson taking the lead and Foster taking a very minimal supporting role and the result isn’t nearly as good. Aside from a career-best performance by Harreslon, Rampart is a cop drama without direction that ultimately collapses under its own weight.
Dave Brown (Woody Harrelson) is the most corrupt police officer walking the streets of LA in 1999. He’ll do just about anything to get by, even if that means beating the daylights out of a pedestrian or getting drunk while on patrol. The only thing he cares about is the law and even though he often-times breaks it, he won’t let anyone else even dare try, because Brown is the last gunslinger of the division and he does the dirty work that none one would even wish upon their worst enemy.
Things start to build up over time and the things Dave got away with before aren’t things he can get away with now. The public is sick of the corruption and everyone has begun to crack down on the cops in response to unfair treatment. Dave doesn’t like the idea of toning it down, so he continues to do what he does best and that causes him a lot of professional and personal frustration.
His family downright hates him and his co-workers despise his old-fashion sensibilities. There was a time and a place for Dave and that train has left the station, leaving behind a broken down cop with a gun and a badge in one hand and a messed up brain in the other.
Rampart is Oren Moverman‘s follow-up to the critically praised The Messenger. Rampart is mostly an entirely different film than The Messenger, but the two do share Moverman’s weakness as a filmmaker and that’s pacing. He for some reason struggles when it comes to balancing out a film and making the first half as interesting as the last. The Messenger started out promising and kept up the strong performances, but it lost me somewhere in the middle when things slowed down and focused on Ben Foster‘s character and his relationship with a war widow.
Rampart comes blasting out of the gate with a corrupt and soulless Woody Harrelson as he continues to dirty the streets to his liking and then it screeches to a halt and starts to wallow around in its own filth. We get consumed into Dave’s depression and the majority of the second act is spent on him floating around in a pool feeling sorry for himself.
Occasionally Harrelson breaks free and goes on a rampage of destruction, but then it sinks back into that hole of never ending depression. It’s a very bad place for a film like this to spend too much time in, because it makes you lose that twisted connection with Harrelson’s character, which is the only thing keeping the wheels turning.
Eventually the film tries to pull itself out of the hole it’s been buried in for most of the film, but by that time it’s too late and Moverman chooses to wrap things up without any real closure. The ending credits will take you by surprise because they really do come out of nowhere, leaving you with many unanswered questions, yet you’ll feel relieved to know it’s over.
If Woody Harrelson wasn’t such a first-class worker Rampart wouldn’t have worked on any level, but he’s one of the best talents working today and he makes Rampart his own twisted vision of Training Day, but without all of the intensity and excitement.
There’s a very vibrant color palette on display in this 1080p video transfer. The sizzling streets of LA glisten in this warm and edgy digitally shot film. It’s a borderline perfect transfer and one that maintains even the smallest of details.
The 5.1 Dolby TrueHD track realistically recreates the busy environment in which the film takes place in. Gunfire, cross-chatter and noisy street sounds can be heard on all channels. Dialogue is never a problem on the front channels.
The disc barely contains any extras, which is kind of a bummer. Here’s a list below:
- Audio Commentary
- Featurette (SD)
Rampart is a very unbalanced and poorly structured film, but it does have its moments. Woody Harrelson mostly carries the film, with the occasional appearance by Ben Foster or Ice Cube making for some entertaining drama. The biggest problem is Moverman’s cold direction that never actually takes the story anywhere. It soaks up the depression like a sponge, but then floats around in it until it eventually cuts off and stops.
The Blu-Ray looks bright and colorful and the audio is noisy and active, but the disc only comes with one real special feature.
The good doesn’t outweigh the bad in Rampart, but the performances alone make it a required viewing, just don’t buy the disc.
Oren Moverman's Rampart is a one man show, with Woody Harrelson leading the pack with a performance of a life time. Unfortunately, the rest of the film is directionless and slow, making for an off-centered cop drama that fizzles under its own pressure.