Robin Wright Penn
RAMPART was co-written by James Ellroy, the influential author of such crime novels-turned-films as L.A. CONFIDENTIAL and DARK BLUE, so you know you're in good, if not familiar hands here. The film deals with the overall history and aftermath of the Rampart scandal of the late 1990s, in which over 70 cops in the LAPD division were found guilty of gross misconduct. Harrelson's Dave Brown is a veteran officer still living in the wake of that, scamming his way through the city, trying to use his authority to carve out a life for himself in a world that's always changing. He has two ex-wives (both sisters, no less), troubled teenage kids and issues with loose women, booze and drugs—not to mention a pending investigation in to his corrupt ways.
It's a fascinating character to say the least and Harrelson really sells it 110% and never wavers from the role. Brown is in every shot of the film, so Woody's performance IS the movie—ranging moment to moment from cocky and funny to broken down and delusional. He's joined by a ridiculous supporting cast that includes Ice Cube, Anne Heche, Robin Wright Penn, Sigourney Weaver, Ned Beatty, Jon Bernthal (Shane from "The Walking Dead"), Steve Buscemi, Cynthia Nixon, SCOTT PILGRIM's Brie Larson (who really shines as Brown's daughter) and an almost unrecognizable Ben Foster as a homeless war vet. Obviously with such a large roster, each actor only gets a scene or two, but they really help build the tapestry of Harrelson’s world and lend quite a bit of legitimacy to the film.
With Woody at the helm, RAMPART is very effective, but a bit similar to movies like BAD LIEUTENANT, TRAINING DAY or even shows like "The Shield." Despite his corrupt ways, Brown as a main character is not a monster. Harrelson plays him with a great sense of depth, as an old school cop who thinks he's doing a good job and be a good father the only way he knows how (and just a little fried from the Vietnam War). The one thing that does set the film apart is director Oren Moverman's sense of pace, editing and style of presentation. The entire film is comprised of bits and pieces of scenes and dialogue or snippets of action. The pace is quick but gives the effect of slowly disseminating information. It's strung together to give you a full, if not disjointed view of a very disjointed character. It all makes sense given the material but as it doesn't follow a traditional arc or narrative, it might be a bit much for average audiences. And the ending will no doubt frustrate some people.
Featurette (30:03): This lengthy piece features cast and crew interviews about the main character and how the movie came together, along with some behind the scenes footage. Standard par for the course.
A Digital Copy is also included.
Extra Tidbit: Woody Harrelson, Ben Foster and Steve Buscemi all starred in Moverman’s last film, THE MESSENGER.