Rampart – Woody Harrelson’s LAPD cop is mad, bad and dangerous to know

Woody Harrelson is mesmerising as the anti-hero of gripping crime drama Rampart, set against a backdrop of police corruption in 1999 Los Angeles, but his pill-popping, booze-swigging, suspect-beating dirty cop, is so irredeemably unsympathetic that you almost wish he weren’t so compelling to watch. Dave ‘Date Rape’ Brown is a cop of the old school with a chaotic private life – his two ex-wives (played by Cynthia Nixon and Anne Heche) are sisters who live next door to each other – and an even messier professional life.

‘I’m not a racist,’ he says after being caught on camera beating up a black motorist, ‘I hate all people equally.’ But his efforts to extricate himself from an official investigation only lead him deeper into trouble. It’s not only Dave Brown’s misdeeds that make Rampart difficult to watch. The film’s impressionistic style and skittery camerawork are almost as unsettling. You should stick with the film, though. With Harrelson at the top of his game, director Oren Moverman and his co-writer, LA Confidential novelist James Ellroy, have created an unforgettable bad cop.

Released on DVD, Blu-ray & EST by StudioCanal on Monday 9th July.

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