Rampart - Blu-ray Review

'Sexual deviance, bad parenting and some face-value common police work; scene-after-scene of Rampart is unexpected development in Brown's meagre existence.'

Of all the 'just missed out on an Oscar' stories, Rampart's may be amongst the most tragic. Clearly a film made with awards somewhat in mind, Oren Moverman's character study - of David Brown, a corrupt cop in 90s LA - fell foul of Academy voters when the screeners sent out to members proved to be faulty. Woody Harrelson, believed to have had a chance at a Best Actor nomination, missed out.

If there is something awards-worthy in Moverman's film it is indeed Harrelson. His cop, nicknamed Date Rape Dave for his supposed assassination of a criminal earlier in his career, is broken and believably corrupt on a human level and in his execution of his daily work. Brown isn't an anti-hero, hero or villain. He's simply the head piece of this film, presented seemingly without judgement or filter. Sexual deviance, bad parenting and some face-value common police work; scene-after-scene of Rampart is unexpected development in Brown's meagre existence.

With such a bravely scoped main character - and a committed Harrelson giving him everything from underplay to full on crazy - it is a shame that Moverman's film fails to find something exciting for him to partake in. Dramatically, Rampart is close to inert. Brown discusses a conspiracy that never comes to bear with Hartshorn (Ned Beatty) and later on, finally finds a main antagonist in Timkins (Ice Cube) but both these potentially compelling elements are maginalised and far too brief of focus, Moverman instead giving us Ben Foster's anonymous homeless guy and Sigourney Weaver's uninteresting HR professional. Even Robin Wright's similarly damaged love interest doesn't hold the attention, and Rampart eventually murmurs out of existence.

The interest then is solely in Harrelson, whose mastery of the 'downward spiral' character arc is something to behold. It's a shame The Academy never got to see if properly, although Overman's mastery of story and drama would probably not have been up to their standards.



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