Police Corruption Drama

Woody Harrelson in RAMPART

This is Woody Harrelson’s moment. The actor, who was nominated for a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his role as an incendiary army officer in 2009’s THE MESSENGER, reteams with director Israeli-born director Oren Moverman on an even more explosive drama that is tailored to his particular talent for playing characters with a short fuse. World premiering at the Toronto International Film Festival this week, RAMPART, set in a neo-noir Los Angeles in the late 1990s, alludes to the Rampart division of the Los Angeles Police Department, a unit so corrupt and violence-prone that it was only a hairs-breadth on the proper side of the law (and just). The film is one of the few high profile films that have come to Toronto with a US distribution deal but will certainly leave with one.

Based on a novel by pulp writer James Ellroy, Moverman has revised the screenplay and hones in on a single corrupt cop whose downward spiral is as fascinating as it is scary. Harrleson plays Dave Brown, a super confident and politically incorrect cop who follows his own rules, district attorneys and senior police officials be damned. His rambling monologues and the film’s use of expressive close ups and jittery jump cuts, contributes to an atmosphere of dread and odd exhilaration. Amidst all the bluster and his lethal misuse of his position, Harrelson also reveals an endearing tenderness and melancholy that he so expertly camouflages with his outrageous and brazen behavior. It is the kind of performance that wins Oscars. In a secondary role, veteran actress Sigourney Weaver sinks her teeth into the role of a self-righteous District Attorney, the only one who can give as good as she gets from Harrelson’s withering wit and cruel, bordering on the sadistic, mind games. Ben Foster, who co-starred with Harrelson in THE MESSENGER, also has a significant role as a homeless man who witnesses one of the corrupt cop’s killings (and thus becomes a target himself). However, the film belongs to Woody Harrelson, a journeyman actor who grows in stature and depth with each new performance. Woody, this could be your year………

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