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Woody Harrelson Shines in Rampart but Some Critics Find Film Pointless

Posted on the 23 February 2012 by Periscope @periscopepost
Woody Harrelson shines in Rampart but some critics find film pointless

Woody Harrelson in Rampart

Woody Harrelson has been wowing critics with his role as racist, sexist Los Angeles cop Dave “Date Rape” Brown in Rampart. Scripted by crime novelist James Ellroy (LA Confidential), the film centres on the build-up to the scandal that hit the LAPD’s anti-gang Rampart Division in the late ’90s, which saw more than 70 police officers implicated in offences such as brutality, evidence tampering, perjury and stealing narcotics.

But does the rest of the film match Harrelson’s performance?

Anti-thriller. Director Oren The Messenger Moverman has created a movie that breaks all the rules of Hollywood thrillers, wrote Tom Huddleston at Time Out: “The film’s foremost act of rebellion against Hollywood orthodoxy is its absolute avoidance of narrative momentum: though numerous plot strands weave in and out, very few are resolved.” Huddleston suggested that the film is likely to divide audiences given the free-form style and focus on character over plot: “Rampart is sure to provoke furious reactions in those unwilling to succumb to its mood of reckless abandon. But for those who can, this feverish slice of LA noir is set to be one of the purest cinematic pleasures of 2012.”

Great performance, shame about the story. “What Rampart doesn’t really offer is a story worthy of its tremendous antihero… Dave gets dragged into some kind of murky, sub-Chinatown conspiracy, and may be the LAPD brass’ designated fall guy for the entire Rampart snafu, but that’s about all I understand,” said Andrew O’Hehir at Salon. But Harrelson’s magnetic performance and the excellent ensemble cast – including Sigourney Weaver, Ned Beatty, Steve Buscemi and Cynthia Nixon – make for a memorable movie, O’Hehir concluded.

Pointless. Even though Harrelson gives his all to the role, Dave Brown is simply too one-note to hold the attention, insisted Kirk Honeycutt at The Hollywood Reporter: “The sheer repetitiveness of his evil dissipates whatever fascination this dirty cop provokes.” Honeycutt couldn’t grasp the “greater truth” the film-makers were aiming at. “They never make up their minds what it all means. Brown just continues his downward spiral, making things worse for himself and more miserable for anyone around him with each passing scene,” said Honeycutt. Justin Chang at Variety agreed that the film seems to lack a deeper purpose, but argued that Harrelson’s performance should keep viewers watching: “His unruly energy and devil-may-care attitude make Dave as likable as he is despicable.”

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