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Starring Woody Harrelson, Robin Wright, Sigourney Weaver, Ice Cube, Ned Beatty, Cynthia Nixon, Anne Heche, Brie Larson
Screenplay by Oren Moverman and James Ellroy
Directed by Oren Moverman

IN SHORT: just OK. [Rated R for pervasive language, sexual content and some violence. 112 minutes]

Sometimes the story for a film will look amazing when still in script form. Sometimes that will translate into a great film. Sometimes you will get a film like Rampart, which packs character background and plot elements into its story like presents into Santa's Xmas bag.

Apologies. It's the end of the year. We see more films in a week than we have in the last three months.

Officer Dave Brown (Woody Harrelson) is a cop working the Rampart Division of the Los Angeles Police Department, circa 1999. He's done his 20, and then some, but continues to rule the streets from his black and white. Officer Brown is, on the surface, a quiet, polite man. He asks his common-law wives "permission" when arranging the evening's sexual encounters. He pays attention to his daughter's activities, whereabouts and friends. Here's the but . . .

Dave Brown is an equal opportunity hater. A dirty cop who "hates everybody" and who is not afraid to dip his fingers into the take from any bust involving great amounts of cash money just lying around for the taking. Officer Brown has an ex-cop stoolie (Ned Beatty) who finds these "opportunities" for a piece of the take. Brown needs the cash. He's got two daughters by a pair of sisters (Anne Heche and Cynthia Nixon), all of whom live under one roof. The costs of maintaining such a household are significant. On the street, Brown does not hesitate to kill in the name of the law if he can "arrange a situation" to facilitate such an event. He did it once before, taking down a serial rapist, thus -- to his mind -- ensuring his daughter' s safety.

In Rampart, though, the Officer is the victim of a blatant attack while doing his assigned duty. The Officer's brutal retaliation by billy club is caught on video and it's splayed all over the internet and broadcast airwaves. Officer Brown's history is dirty enough that an Internal Affairs detective, Kyle Timkins (Ice Cube), paints a bulls eye on his back.

Retirement would make it all the pending problems go away, says the assistant D.A. (Sigourney Weaver) but retirement would also stop the illicit cash flow. Teengirls are expensive. So are the pair of wives who are very much aware that "their man" strays from time to time (in this case with Robin Wright, whose part as a lawyer in this story is much bigger than we're going to say). Retirement is not an option. Then the wives band together to toss him out of the house -- that retaliation was just the final straw and perhaps an indication of dangerous behaviors to come in the common-law household -- all bets are off.

We can think of at least three ways this situation can pan out. We also know that the above description makes Rampart seem like a killer box office draw. Now reread the opening part of this review.

We were not exhausted by the end of year crush when we watched Rampart. We were literally bright eyed and bushy tailed. By the time the ending (which we won't reveal) hit, while said ending made a kind of sense for a story, it wasn't either of the kind of endings we would have really liked to see.

On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Ten Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to Rampart, he would have paid . . .


Rampart is Woody Harrelson's most vicious attempt to kill off his Cheers character for good. In that, he succeeds. Whether it garners him any kind of nomination is not up to us but that's what this film is for. Rent it.

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