RAMPART (2011)

Directed By: Oren Moverman 
Written By: Oren Moverman & James Ellroy 
Cinematography By: Bobby Butowski 
Editor: Jay Rabinowitz 

 CAST: Woody Harrelson, Robin Wright-Penn, Sigourney Weaver, Steve Buscemi, Ice Cube, Brie Larson, Anne Heche, Ben Foster, Cynthia Nixon, Ned Beatty, Jon Foster, Jon Bernthal 

Set in 1999 Los Angeles, veteran police officer Dave Brown, the last of the renegade cops, works to take care of his family, and struggles for his own survival. 

Woody Harrelson does what is called for, he seems natural in the role. The film just fails him as it gives us plenty of his background but doesn’t give us a compelling story to follow him through.

I will admit though I was more impressed by his performance in the film THE MESSENGER.

While there is a riveting story and a character study buried in here. It is never utilized to allow a greater more elaborate performance. The film seems misdirected while trying to go natural.

Then all of a sudden artsy camera movements and angles. It’s like the director didn’t know how exactly to set up shots for the best quality of the scene. So he cut together various bad ones. Considering the film is co-written by James Ellroy.

It gets the grittiness correct. As well as the political and inner workings of the L.A.P.D. But half of the bigger name actors seem only to be here in glorified cameos. They seem to only be in the film because they were attracted by the prestige. There is one scene of true originality.

When the chips are down and Woody’s character goes on a bender to an underground Club. Where sex and debauchery are going on all around him. Drunk and on any numerous narcotics. He walks through the club when the screen goes blank and over the next few minutes there are flashes of action bathed in the red light of what is going on in the club. It sneaks up on us and plays like his character going in and out of consciousness. So we are with him throughout the experience. The rest of the film is so unfulfilling that it pushes Mr. Harrelson’s performance to seem great otherwise compared to the rest of the film. Like a consolation prize.

The film shows that he seems to be living the role and reacting to what is thrown at him. Most of the other roles are underwritten and just woven into the tapestry to shape and show unspoken subtle things on the fringes. There are the makings of a great film here.

It’s a shame the film has good actors who seem stuck and misused in film.


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