Rampart (2011)

White men can’t jump, but they can certainly be corrupt cops.

Dave Brown (Woody Harrelson) is pretty much a huge dick-head. He has two ex-wives that he still somehow lives with, uses women like a new pair of shoes, corrupts the law, and has a past that is not the best track-record on any person, especially a cop. However, that’s all starting to come back onto him and he has to start taking it like a man, or at least just go crazy and drink.

Director and co-writer Oren Moverman is coming off of his debut-flick, ‘The Messenger’, which was one of my favorite films of the forgettable year of 2009 but somehow this one doesn’t hit that same cord here it did with me even though it’s also written by the same dude who did ‘L.A. Confidential’.

There have been so many “dirty cop” films in the past that it almost seems like a tired genre in and of itself but somehow this film stays away from the things we’ve seen before with a relatively interesting and different approach than we are used to. The film relies more on the actual guy, Dave Brown, rather than just showing us the non-stop gun fights, macho-man acts, and tiresome car chases, the film decides to show us how he is with all of the people around him such as the women in his life, his brother, and even the people that are trying to help him be a free and non-guilty man. It has a slight noir feel to it which was pretty cool because it’s never really been done before but I think that’s where my main problem where this film lied was.

The pace for this flick is incredibly slow for this type of material and as much as I don’t want to just sit here and rag on about how boring it was, I still couldn’t help the fact that I was checking the time about every 5 minutes at a lot of points. I would have liked a little bit more action, a little bit more mystery, and a little bit more drama to this film for me to actually have something that excited me but instead it was just very depressing to watch this dude’s life practically crumble in front of his eyes. The material isn’t something that’s all happy-go-lucky in the first place, but I still thought that there could have been a tad more done to this flick to spice things up.

The film also had some bright moments by the end but a lot of that shined away with another ambiguous ending that is becoming the next big trend in Hollywood but here it just felt like a cop out (pun intended) so they didn’t have to worry about disappointing audiences. There are many moments in this film where you think something is going to come to a dynamite resolution, but instead, the film backs off which kept me bothered especially for the contrived ending. Come on movie industry! Stop being so damn ambiguous!

Although the film’s story doesn’t do too much the film is actually very great to look at mainly because a lot of the unusual shots that Moverman takes here with this film. Sometimes the film will be up-close-and-personal on a character so much that you can see up their nostrils, sometimes the camera will be far away, and sometimes it will just be moving around the room to keep track of something happening. Either way the film has a lot of good camera-work here and a very random sex club scene is one that sticks out in my head the most. No, not because of the naked people ya pervs, but because it was actually shot beautifully. Duh….

The real reason to see this flick is one of the main and only reasons this film is being mentioned as much as it is, is because of Woody Harrelson as Dave Brown. Harrelson is a great actor and it’s taken awhile for him to actually have his own starring vehicle where he can just do what he wants which is where this film succeeds. Brown is a bigot, racist, homophobic, violent, and mean man that nobody wants to be around but how Harrelson can somehow make this guy likable by any means is a true testament to how great of an actor Harrelson is. There are also moments in this flick where Harrelson really lets out all of his emotions where you feel this character’s sadness but also his grief over all of the bad things he’s done over the years, even though he is still a mean spirit in the end. Harrelson should at least get nominated for an Oscar just because he is so incredibly good.

The rest of the supporting cast are all pretty good because they all get their moments to shine a little bit but having too many characters can be a little bother-some considering if you are just having them on-screen only when the main character talks to them. Nobody really felt fleshed out except for Brown, and maybe that’s the way the film wanted it to be so it definitely succeeded in that way.

Consensus: Dark, depressing, and very slow, Rampart will bother many people who just want a story but for some very good visuals, an interesting take on a premise that has been done time and time before, and a performance from Harrelson that is ruthless, terrifying, and beautiful at the same time is what makes it a real watch.



  1. Hmm, I think I need a break from the corrupt cops genre. I agree, it needs to go away for a little while. I do like myself a grim and gritty cop drama, but there have been a lot over the past year and not all that good.

    I love that Woody Harrelson’s having a comeback of sorts. He is a great actor, very under appreciated!

  2. Great review! I did take slight offense when you called 2009 a “forgettable year.” You must not have been talking about cinema, because 2009 gave us the highest-grossing epic Avatar, Up, Public Enemies, and Up in the Air…not to mention Coraline and Crazy Heart. I thought it was a pretty good year for film. I mean, not a 1939 or ’94, but still. Regardless, I really can’t wait to see this film.

    • I though ’09 was an OK year but nothing really totally stuck out of my mind as films that really blew me away. Hell, my favorite film of the year was 500 Days of Summer, now don’t tell me that’s weird! Lol thanks Logan.

  3. Really want to see this but sad that you didn’t love it. Although I guess those criticisms sound on par for this type of film.

    I haven’t seen a corrupt cop film in a while (I guess the last big one to come out was bad lieutenant) but I do watch a great cop show called Luther (Idris Elba as a somewhat corrupt cop in London) so I’m curious to see how this film stacks up. Thanks for the review!

  4. Awesome review! Woody is an actor I admire quite a bit, so i’ll be seeing this. Though I am sad to admit that 7/10 means for me it’s a must see, considering when I go to the theater it’s usually to see something down the lines of Breaking Dawn. bleh.

    • Haha yeah definitely check this one out instead of that crap. I can assure you that it will be a very good decision on your part Matt. Thanks man!

  5. I have to say that I was surprised to see that you gave the film a seven given what you had to say in your review, I was expecting something much lower. Funnily enough though I spent my review mostly praising the film but then gave it the same exact score in the end.

    There isn’t a lot to enjoy here, besides Woody, but there is a lot to respect, especially Woody, and so if you’re in the mood for Art rather than Entertainment it’s worth giving it a shot. Personally i’m with you on prefering a little more action or at least a little more story in my films.

    One question though, do you think Ben’s character was actually Brown’s brother? I took that title to be more of a sign of respect, he had only just met the guy but because of ‘Nam they shared that special bond (Not that a bond gets you very much with Dave Brown).

    • I don’t know because I honestly did think it was his brother, but then again I could have just been wrong the whole time. That usually happens. Lol. Thanks!

  6. i really don’t like when only one performance is the only reason to see a movie. and i really have a problem with slow movies, especially if we can only pay attention to one performance. but i love woody harrelson, so i will check this out.

  7. I gave it a 6, bu I had a grand old time writing my piece on it in the style of James Ellroy. The camerawork pissed me off big time, quite frankly. If it had just been filmed straight, I’d have enjoyed it a whole lot more.

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