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Published: Thursday, 5/10/2012

DVD snippets: Rampart

BLADE STAFF

Woody Harrelson makes a memorable impression as a bad cop gone even worse in last year's Rampart.

The little-seen drama features a big-name cast: Sigourney Weaver, Cynthia Nixon, Ice Cube, Anne Heche, Ben Foster, Robin Wright, Steve Buscemi, and Ned Beatty. But with Rampart's DVD and Blu-ray debut, audiences have the opportunity to see what they missed.

The dark drama is set in Los Angeles in 1999, with Harrelson as veteran police officer Dave Brown, a rogue cop who bends the rules for his survival and that of his family. Brown has two exes, who are sisters, and two daughters, one from each relationship. It's a dysfunctional group, with Brown keeping tight reins on everyone. He sees his controlling nature as loving; his family views it as tyranny.

It's when Brown is caught on camera chasing down and beating a black man nearly to death after he crashed into his police car that his world begins to crumble, as outside forces seek to ruin him, making the renegade cop desperate and even more dangerous.

Rampart was co-written and directed Oren Moverman, who also co-wrote and directed 2009's The Messenger, for which Harrelson was nominated for an Oscar. Brown is Harrleson's darkest role since playing a sociopath on a murderous spree in Oliver Stone's Natural Born Killers. While not as drug fueled and over-the-top zany as Nicholas Cage's rogue cop in 2009's The Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call -- New Orleans, or as mercenary as Denzel Washington's rogue detective in Training Day, Brown represents an antihero for our new political age: forever convinced his crimes are not necessarily right, but what are necessary.

Like Michael Fassbender's sex addict in Shame, Brown is a disturbing character and not easy to watch. He's impossible to like, and nearly impossible to forget.

-- KIRK BAIRD



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