Wed, 01 Aug 2012 1:46p.m.
By Dylan Moran
Set in post-Rampart scandal Los Angeles, Rampart is quite possibly the best dark horse prospect for Oscar season.
Woody Harrelson absolutely takes over the screen as LAPD Detective Dave ‘Date Rape’ Brown, a man who lets the old school ideals control his policing despite the changing landscape of American culture.
The real-life Rampart scandal rocked American law enforcement as 70 police officers were implicated in a wide-ranging corruption scandal, the fallout of which led to 24 convictions and cost the state of California $154 million in payouts.
Brown patrols in the looming shadow of Rampart but is soon well and truly in the public eye as he is filmed beating a suspect after a hit-and-run on his police car, a rage-fuelled incident which leaves the man in hospital, while Brown continues with his duties in the lead-up to a hearing on his conduct.
He struggles in his personal life – he has two daughters to sisters who he lives with and is an alcoholic womaniser – and being on the wrong side of the law doesn’t help his mental state.
Harrelson was at the centre of his own real-life controversy when promoting the film in the USA. In a Q&A session on social media site Reddit, a commenter accused him of sleeping with a high school teenager and never talking to her again. He avoided answering the question – replying “let’s focus on the film people”. And yet after seeing the film, a part of me is sceptical this wasn’t a publicity stunt of its own.
The ‘Date Rape’ moniker is in reference to constantly swirling rumours Brown fatally shot a man early in his career, a serial date rapist, a question he always deflects.
As he sinks deeper and deeper into his own mire, Brown continually refuses to take responsibility for his actions. Instead, he grows increasingly paranoid, believing he is the victim of an elaborate conspiracy to use him as a public scapegoat to deflect from the Rampart scandal.
There is one criticism of the film I have to offer. A scene involving three characters having a discussion introduces an odd swirling camera, a move which is never repeated. It is jarring, disorienting and ultimately serves no purpose.
There are touches of Quentin Tarantino and Steve McQueen in Rampart. It’s not an action flick but more of a prolonged character study into an awful excuse for a man, conveyed in such a way the audience may not care about him, but are definitely intrigued.
Harrelson gives a potential Oscar-worthy performance, conveying a very believable tortured soul who is causing his own demise. The scripting is superb as believable characters take part in believable conversations and brief appearances from the likes of Sigourney Weaver, Steve Buscemi and Ice Cube further enhance this incredible film.
:: Director: Oren Moverman
:: Starring: Woody Harrelson, Ned Beatty, Francis Capra, Ben Foster, Anne Heche, Ice Cube, Brie Larson, Audra McDonald, Cynthia Nixon, Sigourney Weaver, Robert Wisdom
:: Running Time: 108 mins
:: Rating: R16- violence, offensive language, sex scenes
:: More information: Click here
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