Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Review: Rampart

If the play-by-their-own-rules movie cops of yesteryear operated in these PC times, he would spend most of his time filling out paperwork and trying to fight off suspensions in meetings with internal affairs.

Such is the plight of the rogue LAPD officer played with fevered grit and searing angst by Woody Harrelson. Dubbed with the nickname "Date Rape," for his alleged vigilante assassination of a date rapist earlier in his career, he's seen by his colleagues as a man's man who operates the way they'd like to if they had the stones, as well as the utter disregard for the consequences.

Barely apologetically racist and unashamedly womanizing, Harrelson struggles to keep his professional life and family -- whose members are exhausted of his macho act -- together after he's caught on video delivering a brutal beating to a motorist. Unable and unwilling to apologize from his public temper tantrum, he's left scrambling to defend himself as the streets themselves turn against them.

A crackling potboiler with seething political undertones, director Oren Moverman's is fascinating from beginning to end. It's heartening to see Harrelson -- a fine actor who's too often relegated to comic relief -- find such a meaty role. I want to see more of the same of Harrelson's newfound Roman spring.

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