Oren Moverman's Rampart, the title of which refers to the scandal that shone light on widespread LAPD misconduct in the late 1990s, follows a crooked cop (Woody Harrelson) through a rough road to realization that, for as long to as the film runs, the character resists.
Disenchanted Vietnam vet Dave “Date Rape” Brown, so nicknamed for his infamous murder of a serial rapist, has been content for years to release his misanthropic bitterness in the form of alcoholism, womanizing, and most conspicuously, brutal street justice. When he is caught on video beating a man near to death, every lawyer, bureaucrat, and politician he begrudgingly encounters tries to tell him that his old-school way of doing things no longer have a place in polite society. Naturally, the stubborn badge refuses to accept such a reality, and is blind to the consequences his reckless lifestyle have had on him and his family.
Unlike his previous film The Messenger, Moverman gives us less plot but more characterization in this outing. Using a pseudo vignette structure, he spends extra attention on observing his central character, galvanizing the details rather than rushing through character development, which is appropriately minimal here. His photographic and editing choices are sometimes distracting, but often interesting. Harrelson is superb in the role. He gives a painfully real depiction of an angry, foolish, tormented man in denial about himself and the world he lives in. Awards attention is deserved.
*** out of ****