Directed By: Oren Moverman

Starring: Woody Harrelson, Ned Beatty, Anne Heche, Steve Buscemi, and Sigourney Weaver

It's good to see a movie about a hardcore racist.  Hollywood has been obsessed in recent years with sugary dramas about overcoming racial barriers.  They show harmonious relationships where an upstanding white member of the community helps out some downtrodden, oppressed blacks.  Just look at films like The Blind Side and The Help.  They're movies that make you feel good about the past without giving you an authentic feel for the racism and bigotry of it.  I'm tired of dramas in the tradition of Driving Miss Daisy.  We know there were some whites back in the day that helped black people out, but there were plenty of others with hate in their hearts who Hollywood doesn't like to show.  Studios, for some reason, fear portraying the hateful bigots of the era.  Well, Rampart is a good step in the right direction.  This indie flick is a riveting drama that doesn't sugarcoat racism.

It's 1999.  The turn of the millennium is upon us.  Our president is getting his political ass kicked for screwing his intern.  The recent dawn of the internet has led to a widespread technological boom.  We also have the Rampart scandal raging in California that has opened the door for major investigations into corruption in the LAPD.  Dave Brown (Woody Harrelson) is a corrupt cop in the LAPD.  He's a racist, a sexist, and a misanthrope whose career symbolizes it.  He's earned the moniker "Date Rape Dave" in the force for allegedly killing a date rapist.  That led to plenty of scandal that rocked his family life for years. 

One day, Dave is out on duty driving and is struck by another vehicle.  He goes to find out why the guy crashed into him.  The guy hits him with his car door and runs for it.  Dave proceeds to viciously brutalize the unarmed man who crashes into him.  He beats the man half to death but is caught on camera.  When the video spreads, Dave finds himself in a tough predicament.  He's now being investigated by the LAPD.  His career is virtually dead, and his family life is once again in turmoil because of the scandal.  The hatred he has spewed for years has finally come back to haunt him, and we get a front row seat for his implosion.

Woody Harrelson is absolutely dynamic as Dave Brown.  He portrays this hateful, self-destructive man extraordinarily well.  His performance is unrelenting in its ability to make your jaw drop.  There are so many OMG moments in Rampart where I was just utterly shocked that Dave is making such spiteful remarks against blacks, women, and any other takers.  Harrelson gives an authentically disturbing performance but somehow leaves room for some of the supporting cast members to shine. 

Steve Buscemi, Sigourney Weaver, and Ice Cube really stand out in Rampart.  Though his role is very minor in the film, Steve Buscemi brings a certain presence to the screen that can't be denied.  The veteran actor brings his A-game in his portrayal of district attorney Bill Blago.  Sigourney Weaver is also compelling in her role as Joan Confrey.  It's nice to see her in something other than a big budget Hollywood production.  Finally, Ice Cube delivers one hilarious performance as Kyle Timkins from Internal Affairs.  It's not actually what he does while the camera is focused on him; it's what he says when it's not.  For instance, a conversation with Dave gets confrontational, and Ice Cube's Kyle just says something to the effect of "Let's Go".  Priceless.

Director Oren Moverman does a great job bringing such a sensitive subject to light in Rampart.  He makes the movie both explosive and sobering at the same time as we watch the insanity of Dave Brown play out and the corruption within the LAPD spin out of control.  The cinematography is extremely dark and gritty.  It actually reminds me a great deal of Michael Mann films like Heat and Collateral.  It's a brilliant decision that lends itself to the overall tone of the film. 

For some smart filmmaking decisions like this by Moverman and brilliant performances by Woody Harrelson and the supporting cast, Rampart gets a 0.03% rating.  Have some wine coolers during this one.