Veterans do not have a place in the new world created by Oren Moverman in Rampart, the latest film by the director who is known for his past work, The Messenger, that put veterans in charge of telling family members about deaths. The star of this movie is Woody Harrelson, playing a vet from the Vietnam War that has spent his last 24 years on a police force learning how to play the ‘bad guy’ in the partnership.
He basically subscribes to the idea of ‘no guts no glory’ due to his background but the Rampart LAPD district is not looking for scandal, causing a problem for him. For the most part the focus of the film manages to direct away from the actual psyche of Harrelson, which actually makes it a bit more fun to watch as you get to see the drama unfold with very little thought about how it could happen.
Instead, viewers get swept away wondering what is going to happen next. Making it more intriguing is the fact that the rest of the cast is stacked with star power from the likes of Cynthia Nixon, Robin Wright, Sigourney Weaver, Ben Foster, Steve Buscemi, Ice Cube, and Anne Heche.
The actual film takes place in 1999, seven years after the Rodney King riots and the LAPD is still right in the middle of scandal given the fact that the Rampart department is racking up officer violations. Harrelson’s character just laughs at the situation and continues to defend his cops and himself in what seem to be questionable manners. For example, when his police car is hit by another car he chases the hit and run driver with a nightstick and plenty of anger which is unfortunately all caught on film.
On the flip side, his family is completely the opposite of what you would expect from his uncontrollable temper as he is married by common law to two sisters that live in homes next to each other with children split between the both of them. This is, of course, more than a bit confusing to the children which is why at the end it is their sweet innocence that is the most captivating as they are drawn into the violence of his world.
Of course, their perception is a bit different than the rest of the world as they are a bit twisted and somehow see it is as a testament to them. Daddy issues are a common theme in the movie as there is a scene at the beginning where Harrelson is eating at a burger stand with a new female recruit that he is insulting incessantly as she is the rookie.
However, in the middle of badgering her he lets off when he finds out that she never knew her father. This is the one emotional flaw that we ever see of Harrelson, as he is about as heartless as you can get, but seems intent on being a great family man, although it is soon clear that you cannot rip apart the world without ripping apart your own.