Harrelson delves deep into a character that has no depth
Verdict: A plotless bore
Rampart arrives, having under-performed at the US box office despite critical raves for Woody Harrelson’s central performance.
I would predict exactly the same fate here.
In a display of let-it-all-hang-out method acting, Harrelson does everything but beg for an Oscar in a film that does little else but delve deeper and deeper into a character that has no depth.
He’s a corrupt, bigoted, brutal, killer-cop hated and feared even by his own family.
Rampart: Woody Harrelson plays a corrupt, bigoted, brutal, killer-cop hated and feared even by his own family
Director Oren Moverman does everything he
can to stress that this is a disintegrating personality (as if we were
in any doubt), with bizarre camera angles, a shrieking soundtrack and a
refusal ever to stray far from Harrelson’s face, whether it is snarling
with rage or vomiting self-pity
The trouble is that we have seen all this so very many times before. Harvey Keitel and Nicolas Cage did it in the Bad Lieutenant movies.
Christian Bale did it superbly in the little seen Hard Times. Denzel Washington won an Oscar for doing it in Training Day.
Why were those movies so much better Well, for a start they gave the leading character a story arc; over the course of the movie, the men changed. This made them interesting.
As Harrelson’s character lurches all too slowly towards self-destruction, I kept wishing he’d get on with it and stop boring us.
Director Moverman has no concept of light and shade, still less pace and the need to avoid repetition.
The biggest mistake the film-makers have made is to strip away virtually all of James Ellroy’s original story, leaving a capable supporting cast (including Steve Buscemi, Sigourney Weaver and Ann Heche) virtually nothing to do.
The movie is stylistically reminiscent of good film noir, but lacks the narrative to hold the attention. Ellroy wrote LA Confidential, where he shared the role of stressed-out cop between three characters. If you want to watch a great film on this topic, my advice would be to re-watch that one.