Review of Rampart


Movie Review: "Rampart"

--Rating: Rated R for pervasive language, sexual content and some violence
Length: 108 minutes
Release Date: February 24, 2012
Directed By: Oren Moverman
Genre: Crime/ Drama

The stigma of the good cop, bad cop is a familiar one. The storyline has been used in many different films, but when we take away the good cop image, we are left with David Brown. "Rampart" is a corrupt tale of a former Vietnam veteran and shady Los Angeles police officer, whose private life is as complicated and messy as his career. Woody Harrelson plays the role of veteran police officer David Brown, who creates his own rules while paroling the streets. Brown, a second generation cop, has been a uniformed officer for 24 years. He treats his fellow officers with little respect by making demands and racist comments. He also has a history of violence and abusing minorities. He often uses brutal force on suspects as well as those who have done him wrong. There are rumors that he shot a rapist and got away with it, thus gaining the nickname date rape. Brown's set of rules go above the law, which gives him a bad reputation on the streets. In his own defense, he makes excuses for his behavior, using his status as an officer to justify his violent behavior. He is well-known on his beat by other officers and criminals for creating his own system of justice.
A drunken Brown stumbles into a home that we find out is occupied by his daughter and his ex-wife. We soon discover that he lives with his two ex-wives (played by Anne Heche and Cynthia Nixon), who happen to be sisters who live next door to one another. He has a daughter from each marriage, neither of whom sees him as a needed father figure. In fact, Brown sees himself as far more useful in these relationships than he really is. In reality, he needs his family more than they need him. Through his own insecurities, he has convinced himself that he is a knight in his family and on the job. The reaction of his children when he shows up in the home is one of pity. They cower away from him and his ex-wife asks him to leave.
In addition to marrying the two sisters, Brown is a womanizer who manipulates several other women in the film. We see his warmer, gentler side as he interacts with a mysterious woman who he meets inside a bar and through a one-night stand he has with Audra McDonald, who plays the role of Sarah. The females bring out the very best in Brown and allow us to see him as something other than a brutal cop.
Harrelson lends his own quirkiness to the film that makes viewers love him and side with him, in spite of the roughness of his character. We see Harrelson's crooked smile and sweet disposition taking the edge off his rough character.
The main story begins when a car crashes into Brown while he is on duty. He chases down the suspect driving the car and begins beating him. This act of violence is caught on videotape and used as evidence that he uses brute force on the job. The story evolves into a major news story after the video goes viral to television viewers. The public is outraged that Brown is allowed to continue to remain an officer. It is also questioned if violence was needed in the situation at all. Others are angered at his behavior, which leads to an investigation within the police force.
The internal affairs investigator is played by Sigourney Weaver. She asks a series of questions during her investigation that break down Brown's hard exterior. Working hard to pay for his own defense, a frustrated Brown receives a tip-off about an upcoming heist. He knows he can attack the robbers and steal the money for his own gain. He robs the thieves and uses the money to pay for a lawyer to aid in his defense. Brown makes twisted remarks to justify his behavior, such as "I'm not a racist, I'm against everyone equally."
Harrelson does an excellent job playing the character of David Brown. The hard lines of his face and the cocky swagger seen throughout the film portray him as a rough character. He also has a cigarette hanging out of the side of his mouth as he rides through the streets keeping watch over his neighborhoods. The bad cop persona has been played many times, but Harrelson breathes new life into the role.