Summary: Woody Harrelson delivers an exceptional performance in Oren Moverman's cop-on-a-downward-spiral drama 'Rampart'.
"You broke into my house!" Officer Dave Brown's response: "I located your security flaw..." This evasive, witty dialogue exchange is typical of 'L.A. Confidential' scribe James Ellroy's work as America's master of crime fiction, and it's delivered brilliantly throughout 'Rampart'.
Woody Harrelson is the perfect choice for disgraced cop Brown, who has an answer for everything, often speaking in legalese when challenged. He memorises cases with legal loopholes so if a suspect or a cop claims he's out of order, he can show them contrary evidence that his tactics at one stage have been upheld and championed.
A bit of background: He's known as "date rape Dave" after apparently dealing out his own justice to a suspected sex offender. In Oren Moverman's hard-hitting film, this rules pushing cop makes Dirty Harry look cheerful.
As for the foreground in Los Angeles 1999, he's under investigation after being caught on tape beating an unarmed man while the memory of Rodney King is still very much alive. This is a self-contained narrative. Moverman's film reveals plenty about the lead character but doesn't patronise him by throwing in a traditional story for the sake of it.
Brown is as vile as he is fascinating, and Woody Harrelson's masterful performance grants what could be a cliche some deep resonance. While the film is littered with a great supporting cast (Sigourney Weaver, Ned Beatty, Ben Foster, Robin Wright, Anne Heche, Cynthia Nixon, Ice Cube and Steve Buscemi), this is Harrelson's show. He is present in every single scene and holds complete command over it.
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