Woody Harrelson plays effectively in 'Rampart': movie review

A dirty cop movie, 'Rampart' gets inside the head of the paranoid Dave Brown, played by Woody Harrelson, as investigative units start to close in on him.

Millennium Entertainment/AP
'Rampart' star Woody Harrelson gives an effective portrayal of a corrupt police officer, but the film suffers in comparison to better movies with similar themes.

In "Rampart," Internal Affairs and other investigative units are closing in on Dave Brown (Woody Harrelson), a corrupt Los Angeles cop with a heavy-handed mode of operation. He's just trying to do right by his daughters and (to a lesser extent) his wife, but the pressure is making him justifiably paranoid.

Oren Moverman ("The Messenger") directed this cop film from a script he co-wrote with James Ellroy. In the background is the real-life Rampart Scandal that embarrassed the LAPD around the turn of the millennium, though the film makes it clear that Brown's crimes are unrelated; he's rotten enough on his own.

The visual style is designed to bring us into Dave's paranoia, but a few shots are simply baffling, hinting at things that never pay off. In addition, some of the exposition is unclear. Harrelson is effective, but the film isn't helped by the inevitable comparisons to the far superior "L.A. Confidential" and "Bad Lieutenant" movies (particularly the more recent Werner Herzog/Nicolas Cage entry). Grade: C- (Rated R for pervasive language, sexual content, and some violence.)

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