Saturday, January 7, 2012

Rampart (2011)

Rampart (2011)
Rated R
Starring: Woody Harrelson, Steve Buscemi, Robin Wright, Steve Buscemi, Ice Cube, Sigourney Weaver, Ben Foster
Directed by: Oren Moverman
Tagline: The most corrupt cop you’ve ever seen on screen
Running time: 108 Minutes

Quick Summary: In Los Angeles in 1999, renegade cop Dave Brown is struggling to save keep his family together and keep himself out of trouble for his past crimes and corruption.

Corrupt cops make for more compelling characters than straight-laced or good cops. It’s just a fact. It’s why The Shield was a better show than Law & Order. It’s why Denzel Washington won an Academy Award. Nobody wants to watch a movie about a good cop doing his job well. There’s no drama there. We want dirty cops. Cops on drugs. Cops who will steal, kill, cheat. Cops who abuse their power and take advantage of others.

Woody Harrelson’s Dave Brown is a troubled man, a corrupt cop. He’s abusive. He’s a racist. His past indiscretions are catching up faster than he can cover them up with more crimes. His life is coming apart at the seams, and he is hanging on by a thread. His desperation is evident, and the depths he will go to protect himself are astounding. It’s easily the strongest performance I’ve ever seen from Harrelson, and one of the strongest performances I’ve seen from an actor this year.

There’s an impressive list of co-stars and supporting actors in this movie, and almost none of them matter. That’s not a slight against any of the very talented actors and actresses in the movie; it’s just that Woody Harrelson IS the movie. It’s about him and it revolves around him and without him, it just doesn’t work. Steve Buscemi is a great actor, and he does a good job with his role, but he’s barely in the movie, probably only a scene or two. The same goes for Anne Heche, though I wouldn’t consider her a great actress, she’s only really in one scene. Ned Beatty, Sigourney Weaver, Robin Wright and Ice Cube (I think it’s awesome when rappers with a history of cop-hating play cops in movies) all have larger roles, and all do a good job, but they are completely overshadowed by Harrelson.

There will no doubt be many comparisons between Rampart and Training Day, as they both deal with the downfall of a corrupt cop. And there are a lot of similarities between Harrelson’s Brown and Denzel’s Alonzo Harris. They’re both veteran cops that will do whatever it takes to protect themselves and their way of life. The main difference that separates them is that Harris is a sociopath. He has no remorse for any of the bad things he’s done. He simply doesn’t care. Brown is troubled by his past mistakes, and only digs himself in deeper when he tries to cover them up. His life is falling apart, and he is fighting to protect it. He saw his demise coming and was trying to avoid it, Harris thought he was immune to it. He never thought he would ever get caught. The other difference is that Denzel Washington is a better actor than Woody Harrelson. Not a knock on Harrelson, as he was incredible in Rampart, but Washington was better in Training Day.

Part of the reason I had wanted to see Rampart was because there had been buzz about Harrelson’s performance. I have long been a fan of Harrelson’s work, and was genuinely excited to see if his performance was as strong as the buzz indicated, and I think it was. It seems his chances of snagging an Oscar Nomination may have taken a hit recently, since he did not get a SAG nomination, but I sincerely hope he gets nominated, as his performance is worthy.

Four out of five stars

Streets ahead of Avatar

The trailer

No comments:

Post a Comment