Saturday, August 04, 2012


Dave Brown (played by Woody Harrelson) smokes so many cigarettes in this film it is a wonder he does not die of lung cancer half way through. Officer Dave Brown is a dirty cop from a police station with a bad reputation at a time (1999) when the LAPD itself had a rep. The film centres around Dave, in fact the camera is rarely off him. The plot is simple Dave is caught on video beating a guy mercilessly and the authorities want to be seen to be cleaning up the LAPD by getting rid of Dave quickly and publicly. Dave, who sees police work as doing societies dirty work, decides not to go quietly and to tough it out. As pressure mounts from the authorities and his family he descends into drugs and other bad behaviour. It feels like only his two daughters and his ability to effortlessly get women to sleep with him that prevents him going postal.

May be I'm jealous, but Dave's sex life seems the least believable part of this character.  He lives with both his ex-wives who are sisters (and still has sex with both of them) and his daughters (half sisters and cousins). He also has no trouble picking up women in bars for casual sex.  This sounds more like the 1970s than 1999.

The lurid colours, non-standard camera angles, choppy editing and the remorseless self justification of unusual moral ideas reminded me of both Taxi Driver and Apocalypse Now. But I am unconvinced that Rampart adds anything more than another dirty cop and some quotes to Hollywood culture.

Ian's rating 2/5

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