Rampart (2011) – 2/5

Muddled and poorly written/directed, but with a fine leading performance from Woody Harrelson that elevates it all somewhat, and an interesting concept that at the very least keeps you on your toes. Still, it’s not a very good movie by any means, average at best, and that’s being generous. The story is stupid at times and the characters inconsistent, and the film is shot less like someone who knows what he’s doing and more like someone who’s eager to throw every camera trick he knows into the mix in hopes that something will look cool. It doesn’t. It’s just annoying.

The performances are the strongest aspect of the film. Even though Harrelson’s character is inconsistent, it’s a credit to his acting skill that he’s able to pull it off as well as he does. Same for most of the cast really, especially Robin Wright who’s quite great in this despite her character’s weird behavior. Brie Larson, whom I love very much, is also in this and is cute as always, but, like a lot of the other characters in this film, isn’t written very believably.

But the story is just terrible. Good concept; reminded me a lot of the show “The Shield,” but without any of the great character development and intriguing plot lines that show is known for. Harrelson’s character just isn’t written very convincingly; he’s supposed to be this **SPOILERS** big violent racist unpleasant guy, but he doesn’t come off that way really. He’s not a nice guy, but he never really says or does anything that would make you think he’s the horrible person the film portrays him as being, at least not initially. And some of his actions just don’t make sense. Why does he, after being caught beating the crap out of a guy, decide the next course of action to take is to kill a man in cold blood and try to pass it off as self-defense? That whole scene made absolutely zero sense, which is especially grievous given that it becomes our protagonist’s central problem and the eventual cause of his downfall. **END SPOILERS** Bad, bad writing.

Robin Wright’s character’s behavior is just as equally perplexing. What the hell was going on with her? Well acted, but huh? It all just smacks of poor writing. And the cinematography is terrible at times. There’s an entire scene that literally almost made me vomit, not because of any content reasons but because the director decided to spin the camera around in circles nonstop for 3 minutes. The trick might have been cool for 30 seconds, maybe, or to show the symbolically cyclical nature of what was going on in the scene, but no, it’s long and pointless and just made me dizzy. A first. And this was just one of several poorly shot scenes that were all style and no substance, though very little style at that.

Overall, not a great movie by any means. Terribly written and directed, tedious, not particularly interesting, with only a small handful of good moments here and there. The acting is good, at least, and may be enjoyed for that. But really, it’s a mostly unpleasant watch, and not something I’d recommend.

 

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  1. The film itself is not for everyone but Harrelson’s performance is given a great challenge, and he more than rises to the occasion with this near-perfect act. Great review. Check out mine when you can.

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