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He hates everyone equally, so it's OK
David Ferguson8 February 2012
Greetings again from the darkness. Dirty cops happen in real life sometimes and in the movies quite often. It can be an intriguing subject to explore ... psychological demons, ego, power-mongering, etc. Typically we see it presented as a cop torn between doing the right thing and feeling like he is owed something. Rarely do we see a cop portrayed as beyond hope ... so far gone morally that redemption is no longer even a possibility.

Writer James Ellroy (LA Confidential) and director Oren Moverman (The Messenger) present to us Officer Dave Brown, known to his fellow cops (and even his daughter) as "Date Rape" Dave. The moniker stems from a vice incident where Brown dished out street justice to a serial date rapist. With no proof of his guilt, Brown remained on the force and his rogue manner has escalated to the point where he is a constant danger to himself and others. This guy has no moral filter for everyday living.

Officer Brown is played with searing intensity by a Woody Harrelson you have never before seen. As loathsome a character as you will ever find, you cannot take your eyes off of him. He is hated by EVERYONE! Somehow he has daughters by two sisters and they all live together in a messed up commune where hate is the secret word of the day, every day. Most of the time no one speaks to Dave except to tell him to "get out". He spends his off hours drinking, smoking, doing drugs and having meaningless sex. Heck, that's just about how he spends his time while on duty as well.

The supporting cast is phenomenal, though most aren't given but a scene or two. This includes Robin Wright (who nearly matches Dave in the tortured soul department), Sigourney Weaver, Anne Heche, Cynthia Nixon, Ned Beatty, Ben Foster, Ice Cube, and Steve Buscemi. The first hour feels like an Actor's Retreat as most every scene introduces another familiar face.

Still, as terrific as Harrelson is, and as deep as the cast is, the film is just too one note and downbeat and hopeless to captivate a viewer. I also found some of Moverman's camera work to be quite distracting and the sex club scene was pure overkill. Downward spiral is much too neutral a term to describe this character and ultimately, that prevents the film from delivering any type of message.
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Never takes off.
buypluto29 November 2011
Warning: Spoilers
This star studded movie just never takes off. It is slow and never builds up to anything. When you think it is going to get good it falls flat and just drags on. There are scenes, like the sex club, that just make no sense and you have to wonder why it was put in the movie. Sex is a theme and that can only be my guess as to why.

Would have been great to develop more of the characters instead of having them in the movie to just have them. Ice Cube was great, but only has a few scenes. You wont realize who Ben Foster is until you read the credits.

Spoiler The ending is horrible. If I was at the screening I would have booed. After an hour the movie could have ended and I was like are they ever gonna wrap this up. The story is horrible, though the actors are great and that is what the other reviews touch on. GREAT actors, horrible movie.
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Good Start To a TV Drama - Waste Of Time As a Film
jwhimster20 March 2012
All four stars are for the cast. It's not their fault this movie is awful.

Harrelson is great. He's an engaging actor, totally believable. It's a shame the script isn't.

Harrelson plays a brutal, murderous cop who is caught beating down a black guy in the street. Yet his home life is ultra liberal, he lives with two sisters, with whom he's had two kids during separate relationships. One of his daughters is pushing boundaries yet Woody doesn't seem to challenge this, one of the sisters is an artist, again not exactly fitting in with the hard-line discipline Harrelson is dishing out on the street. He's immediately defined as a sexist, racist homophobe, yet we're asked to believe that he's knocked up two intelligent, lefty sisters, who are still willing to accommodate him in their lives, and indeed home, despite his lifetime of indiscretions and violence and that he's managed to split this work and home life without a significant issue developing through the life of the girls (the eldest of who is mid teens at least). The family dynamic could have been interesting but it wasn't explored at all really, it just got crammed in and thus didn't fit with the character at all.

The supporting cast is really strong and the acting is solid throughout but not one of the plots get developed and not one aspect reaches a conclusion. Obviously, this was done on purpose but if I pay to see a film, I want to see the whole ****ing film, not just half a story! Buscemi has about three lines. Ice Cube, who I rate highly, has a handful of scenes as an internal investigator, all of which are well enough constructed but end without any resolution. Robin Wright is great, foxy as ****, but again, other than to identify Harrelson as a paranoid womaniser, we get nothing back. Anne Henche and Cynthia Nixon play his former partners and both are well played again but they're just sketches of characters, as is Sigourney Weaver, also restricted to about 3 minutes of screen time.

Basically, it feels like the first, long, episode in a made for TV series. If that was the case, I'd certainly watch more because there is a lot there and the on screen talent is superb but as a stand alone film it's a massive let down and it goes absolutely nowhere at the end of 2 hours.

Oh, and the sex club scene is particularly pointless, if any such scene can be. It just seems like a random bit of editing that has shoved a half idea into an already over-stretched concept.
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'Bear in mind that I am not a racist. Fact is, I hate all people equally.'
gradyharp16 May 2012
This film would be almost intolerable were it not for the fact that it is based on incidents that happened in 1999 in the Rampart Division of the LAPD, incidents still unresolved. Writer James Ellroy examined the corruption of the police force and came up with this quasi-true story. According to Ellroy, 'I am a master of fiction. I am also the greatest crime writer who ever lived. I am to the crime novel in specific what Leo Tolstoy is to the Russian novel and what Ludwig van Beethoven is to music.' What happens on the screen in this film is best viewed with a bit of Xanax on board along with an anti-nausea medication. Oren Moverman co-wrote the screenplay and directs.

David Douglas Brown (Woody Harrelson in a one man powerhouse of a performance) is a veteran Los Angeles police officer, one of the last of the renegade cops who works out of the Rampart Division. Dave is misogynistic, racist, brutally violent, egotistical womanizer, yet he defends himself against many of these accusations as he says that his hate is equal opportunity. Though unlawful, he uses intimidation and brutal force to defend his worldview. The most notorious of his actions is his purportedly murdering a suspected serial date rapist, which is why he has been given the nickname "Date Rape Dave". He lives with two of his ex- wives - sisters Barbara (Cynthia Nixon) and Catherine (Anne Heche) - in an effort to keep family together, namely his two daughters, Helen and Margaret, who each have a different sister as their mother. Dave still maintains a sexual relationship with both sisters - whenever the mood suits any of them - while he openly has other sexual relationships with the likes of Sarah (Audra McDonald) and Linda (Robin Wright). His informer is retired officer Hartshorn (Ned Beatty) and street person General Terry (Ben Foster). His boss is Joan Confrey (Sigourney Weaver) who attempts to cover Dave's past deeds but ultimately must face the true rascallion he is. When Dave is caught on video brutally beating a man who accidentally ran into his police car he is faced with decisions that uncover not only his misdeeds but those of his fellow workers.

The cast is filled with fine support (Jon Foster, Ice Cube, Steve Buscemi, et al) who have very little to do, but Harrelson is in every frame obnoxiously smoking cigarettes in a chain smoker fashion. There is not real storyline to follow; we just are forced to watch the wretched life of a disgustingly bad cop with just enough slightly good virtues to keep us with him. As Catherine states, 'You know what I think? I think you were a dirty cop from day one. You were a dirty cop with a dirty mind and you dirtied all of us up by default.' And that includes the audience.

Grady Harp
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kosmasp9 May 2012
I had no idea what this was based on before I went in to watch it. Everyone (well many) were raving about Woody Harrelsons performance. But the feeling I got from the movie, the vibe it has, does remind one of James Ellroy. Especially if you have read one of his novels (which conveniently enough I just had finished one).

What you have to accept (if you can), is the fact, that this is a very dark miserable, but strangely endearing person. The character Woodys playing does not feel he's doing anything wrong. And you have to admire the honesty (he doesn't pretend, he's a straight shooter). Sometimes you may admire him, sometimes you may hate him. But you cannot say that he is fake.

Having said that, this matter will decide if you like or hate the movie. It's not really an easy movie at all. I wouldn't dare calling the watching experience as pleasant, but it sure was something incredible!
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Harrelson Good...Wish Movie Were Better.
Matthew Stechel1 March 2012
Always watchable largely thanks to Harrelson--he's really quite good---but never quite believable film tracks a couple days in the life of a not exactly dirty, but not exactly clean cop. To my mind, Harrelson's character isn't exactly dirty--we never witness him taking bribes, or stealing money, or looking the other way--he's just way overzealous in his pursuit of bad guys--actually scratch that--something happens at the mid-point that actually changes part of that last statement--but he still remains a clean(ish) cop trying to do right by society, even guys he claims to hate--he tries to give a fair shake to. Its that overzealousness that lands him in trouble tho---he beats 2 people in the first ten minutes of the movie--but in both cases i think they were both understandably beatings given the circumstances. Meh whatever, film starts piling things on for Harrelson--having been caught with a cell phone cam beating up the 2nd guy (who was running away from him!) he's then put on suspension, and then he gets put under investigation which leads to...not a whole lot honestly.

Film is a very shaggy dog story---Not much really happens throughout the movie other then just watching Woody Harrelson walk around and talk tough---he tries to bond with his teenage daughter, he tries to make it right with his ex wives, he tries to figure out what Internal Affairs wants to hear so he can get his job back, and yeah that's about it really. I feel like the events of the end don't really add up to much, and the big climactic scene at the ending is well again not much of anything really. Film is basically a 70's Esq character study of this guy and his life that seems to be arbitrarily falling apart around him. That said, the film's well shot, its nicely acted and not just by Harrelson, the actress playing his teenage daughter i feel scores just as many points as Woody does in their handful of scenes together. There's enough here that you wish it was better instead of the mish-mash stew we got going on here. still its worth a look on cable should you stumble on it.
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Criminally underrated - a dark, honest piece of cinema.
jamesmartin199516 August 2012
LAPD veteran Dave Brown is a vile, disgusting man. He is a sexist, racist, womaniser, drunkard, dirty cop and patent homophobe. This, incidentally, is not my judgement of him, but that of his own daughter. It's pretty accurate. How much does that tell you?

Co-written by James Ellroy and starring Woody Harrelson in the main role, 'Rampart' serves both as compelling crime melodrama and scorching character study. When we first meet Brown (the Harrelson character), we take an immediate dislike to him. He stinks of corruption and arrogance; he is a control freak, whose selfishness and cynicism damage and infect all those around him. He has two daughters by two different women (both sisters, as chance would have it); despite the fact that his adultery is an almost nightly occurrence, he insists on living together with the two women and their respective children, to 'keep the family' intact. The pain and despair this has caused is devastating.

Yet this is a man quite capable of charisma, and perhaps in the crudest sense possible, charm. He can, after all, be seductive; in a brilliant early scene, we see him pick up a woman at his local bar; first conversation, then sex. His target is sensible, and perhaps looking for a good time, a friend, maybe even a relationship. Her questions are amicable and fair. The disappointment after that vacuous act later on is captured with incredible insight and realism by the filmmaker.

Dave's behaviour is often puerile and savage; the weight of the law begins to force itself upon him when he is caught on camera almost beating a man to death after the latter crashed his vehicle into Dave's police car. The extent of his obstinacy and self-delusion is mind blowing; an amazing piece of cinematography, in which the camera swings round in a circle, abruptly cutting between Dave and his superiors during a heated discussion on the subject of his brutality, emphasises the illogical but never-ending egoism and suppressed insecurity that drive him.

Sex, as in most works with Ellroy's name attached, plays a huge role. At first, we think Dave is just producing excess testosterone, or is simply a chauvinistic pig by nature. But we soon realise there is something desperate about his constant affairs, about his insatiable need to control and assert his authority. Perhaps to confirm his masculinity, or escape his problems. Certainly, the brief relationship he strikes up with a lawyer, as confused and desperate as he is in many ways, sheds much light on Dave's character.

I've seen it argued that Dave is completely immoral in other reviews. This isn't true. He may have ruined the lives of his family, and everyone he has come into contact with, but he does come to realise that. Too long he has spent running away from his responsibilities; at least on the job, he can fall back on the tired, formal jargon that has etched itself on his brain. But what about his children?

I think it would be unfair to give any more specifics on the plot. Technically, this movie is something special: intimately filmed, with heavy usage of artificial lighting (neon red, in particular, is used to great effect), and a handful of brilliant sequences – including but by no means limited to an excursion into an underground bar where easy sex pervades the air. This is where we begin to see Dave at his most desperate and

'Rampart' is a formidable movie about a man well past his sell-by-date, whose brutality, closed-mindedness, insecurity and immaturity have destroyed any chance of happiness he might ever have had, and may well have destroyed the same thing for those nearest to him. There is a heartbreaking sequence near the end where, for the first time, Dave tries to speak to his children honestly, in hope of salvaging his relationship with them. It is a film about despair, about a corrupt society that has moulded a man whose failures and flaws are killing him from the inside out, without mercy. His own childhood is left deliberately ambiguous, but his father, another corrupt cop, seems to have been his role model. Thus the corruption and destruction seems to be continuing through the generations in ripples and circles.

The possibility of redemption has certainly manifested itself by the end of the film. Hope has come, at least for Dave's family. As far as he is concerned, perhaps self-knowledge is the first step. The movie's final scene is a modification of the opening sequence, and we have to ask ourselves, can we see the change in Dave? There is no easy answer. There isn't meant to be.
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Manditory viewing for anyone dealing with addiction, i.e. everyone
Malcolm Taylor28 February 2012
Warning: Spoilers
Creepy, vile, and compelling.

It's horribly dark and almost impossible up watch. Definitely not a date movie. I feel filthy and dirty after being in its presence. Yet forced to confront the degree to which I live only for my own compulsions at the price of those I hold dear.

A very hard work to digest, with, unfortunately, a major let down of an ending. After dragging you though the muck for nearly two hours, you're left hanging.

Perhaps "Rampart's" greatest strength is in providing a very accurate example, without being preachy, of what a person's life will become when he/she shuts out all the people around them and lives only for him/herself and his/her compulsions.

"Rampart" can easily serve as mandatory viewing for anyone dealing with addiction in any one of its multifaceted forms. Perhaps by witnessing such an extreme case as is portrayed in this film, the viewer can see the necessity for redemption. The consequences of not doing so resulting in the spiral into self-destruction that Woody Harrelson's character experiences in this film.

Wonderfully acted by all involved who elevate this film beyond its own meanderings. Anne Heche's character has a delicious scene at the end where she just gets to nail Harrelson but good. That must have been a lot of fun for her. And terrific work from the young actress playing Harrelson's daughter.

A very troubling film but one that deserves major props for originality. I think it took a lot of bravery to make a film like this that is in a way such and anti-film. It's amazing something as difficult and unrewarding for the viewer as this film is could get made in today's climate of pandering to focus groups, etc.

Still this film does kind of suck. But it kinda sucks for all the right reasons. It sucks because it's not "Training Day" or "Bad Lieutenant". It's not some thrill-ride, wish-fulfillment fantasy of how much fun it would be to be a bad-ass cop who goes out with a bang in the end. Nor is it a dramatic recreation of real life events to better understand a moment of historical significance. Yet, this film is the real deal. If it weren't for the striking cinematography, and terrific acting work from recognizable faces you'd swear you were watching a documentary.

I suppose that's why I'm left hanging at the end. And I suppose I'm alright with that. Kudos!
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Great film-Some spoiler ahead, very vague, though-
tymccloskey11 March 2012
Warning: Spoilers
Rampart is one of the most brutally honest films to come along in years. James Ellroy never pulls punches when it comes to describing the testosterone fueled psychopathy that informs the average police mentality. A very small percentage of the human population can actually kill another human being, even in self-defense, so it takes a rare breed of empathy challenged men and women to do what cops do. The worst of the lot, like Woody Harrelson's character, are further hampered by what is clearly a trauma based condition that manifests itself in the legalized hostility that this character's uncontrollable appetites are enabled by. His arrangement with women, even intelligent women as portrayed in the film, is very primitive and more common than you might think, though usually in star studded films, this polygamous mentality is celebrated as enlightened. Here, Harrelson has, in effect, a multi-generational harem of co-dependents; believe me, one of those daughters will end up in the sack with their old man if he isn't stopped. By the end of the film it's clear that his oldest daughter, even though intimated that she is a lesbian (perhaps in self-defense, perhaps as a reaction to the example of male degeneracy displayed by her father) has similar dents in her psyche and that the contagion will be passed on to the next generation. You don't see this dark side of the human condition in major motion pictures and especially not within the police procedural where, as the endless forensic shows on television lie to us daily, police are dedicated white knights of empirical truth who let blind justice run its course. Ellroy portrays himself as a far right wing nut and it often plays as an act to sell books; but it's also true that the LAPD are amongst his biggest supporters and sometimes, to get an accurate account of the far right, it takes one of their own to really show the truth. Whether you think this is actual entertainment or not- I think it is a brilliant and exciting piece of filmmaking and I am looking forward to Moverman's next film, whatever that may be- Rampart is at least a very important essay on the ways and means of the high functioning and dangerously responsible psychopath.
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Unbelievable how BAD this movie is
Mustang9230 December 2011
Warning: Spoilers
Where do I start??

Story Line & Story Logic:

1) I don't know about police in other cities, but here in Los Angeles (and most likely every major city in the U.S.), cops do NOT drive around policing their neighborhood beat by themselves -- there is ALWAYS two cops per car. Standard LAPD protocol, and is also a safety issue working the beat for the cops. Yet, in this movie, the cop working the beat out of the Rampart Division -- a notoriously dangerous/difficult part of LA -- works the beat by himself. Bullsh*t. Wouldn't happen, and didn't happen in 1999, when this movie takes place.

The movie starts out with the cop (Harrelson) teaching a newbie, who's driving with him, but that storyline is gone after the first 8 minutes or so of the movie. (And is an entirely pointless part of the story, other than to show this cop is a sexist.)

2) After he's caught beating the crap out of someone he was chasing, on camera, he is NOT removed from his beat, but stays on working his beat. (Or maybe he's removed for a little while, but is then back on the beat 20+ minutes later, with no explanation as to why he's back on the beat.) Sorry, filmmaker/Director/Writer of this horrible movie, but why is he back on the beat? Would NEVER happen. He would be suspended, with or without pay, but would not be back on the street until everything is entirely resolved. What LAPD brass -- in reality -- would ever allow a cop back on the street beat after a firestorm of protests, media, etc? Did the cops caught beating Rodney King (8 years prior to this film's timeline) go back on the street right after? NO. It's also a safety issue for the cop, and a race relations issue for the City, too.

Why do the filmmakers defy story logic, or even basic LAPD procedures like this? Are they that moronic in their storytelling? Apparently so.

3) Why call this movie "Rampart"? What's the point? This movie has nothing to do with the Rampart/LAPD scandal of the late '90s. Nothing. Even the backstory of the Rampart scandal has virtually nothing to do with this film's storyline. It appears as though the filmmakers are just "trading" on the Rampart name, and thus misleading prospective movie-goers that this will be about the LAPD & the Rampart scandal.

Few people outside of LA know anything about "Rampart," so this name means nothing to them and is pointless. The story is about a corrupt cop, period. It has nothing to do with any particular area of LA, and ultimately just adds tarnish to a part of LA.

The Movie Overall: I can not, could not, find one redeeming thing about this train wreck of a film. It's boring, it's redundant, it defies logical sense and typical police department procedures.

Here's an example of the redundant nature: Sometime after the midpoint of the film, Harrelson begins to show paranoia. Okay, so presumably the director wanted to show him sinking mentally. Fine. A couple scenes is plenty. Why show scene after scene after scene of him being paranoid, when that's the only purpose of those scenes? We got it, let's get on with the story. Oh... but there is no real story, that's the main problem with this film. Another reviewer said this film was like watching paint dry. That reviewer was too kind.

Here's an example of something else that would never happen with the LAPD: Late in the film, Harrelson is running out of money for his attorneys defending him (over his Rodney King-style beating), so he's going to bust up a neighborhood high-stakes poker game and steal their money. He's now nearby, by himself, and in uniform with his police car (remember, he's inexplicably still able to work his beat while under investigation for police misconduct/brutality). How is he going to "legitimately" bust up a poker game by himself with no backup? NEVER would happen. Even a corrupt cop couldn't do this and get away with it. Not in any major city in the U.S. For one thing, Vice would be involved, and secondly, no bust would be attempted without numerous officers. A single cop wouldn't/couldn't EVEN get the authority from his superiors to enter by himself.

So what happens? Instead of the director having to go through with this incredibly unrealistic storyline, he has 2 armed thugs show up and rob the game, with Harrelson looking on. (They were not in "partnership" with Harrelson, although that approach in the story would have been more plausible.) The thugs run out, and one of the poker players runs out chasing after the armed thugs. (Yeah, riiiight... an unarmed poker player is going to chase armed thugs down the street....) So Harrelson runs after them all, shooting & killing the innocent poker player and wounding one of the robbers. He then tells the wounded robber to take some of the money out of the robber's bag for himself and split, and then plants a gun in the innocent poker player's hand. So if we didn't think Harrelson was bad enough at this point, we can now dislike him even more.

This movie is a COMPLETE MESS, with no real story, just a bunch of scenes strung together with the same sh*t happening in every scene. There's an attempt to show that Harrelson is old LAPD and the department is changing, but this is NOT a developed storyline. How did the Director/Writer even get financing for this piece of crap?? I'll tell ya this: The movie will make no money when it's released (supposedly in January), and if this Director wants a career as a Director, he'd better learn how direct and tell a cogent story.
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