Oren Moverman's second feature film, following the outstanding The Messenger (2009), tells the story of LA police officer Dave "daterape" Brown (Woody Harrelson). He's an old school cop. Racist, violent, corrupt, and completely out of control. He's got a murder charge hanging over his head, and he runs into more problems, when he beats up a suspect in full daylight - an event caught on video camera. The movie is based of true events, the so-called Rampart scandal, where several cops from the LAPD's special anti-gang unit, CRASH, were implicated in one of the biggest corruption scandals of all time.
We've seen this type of story many times before. Denzel Washington won an Oscar for his portrayal of a similar cop in Training Day (2001), and Vic Mackey caused much chaos and mayhem on the streets of LA during the 7 years The Shield TV-series ran. A show which was also based directly on the Rampart scandal. In other words: If you want to play in this league, you better bring your A-game.
The story is very familiar, borderline trivial, and the film is messy and incoherent. It feels as though Moverman and Harrelson don't really know what they want to tell us, with this story. It's too quiet and introspective to be a hardcore cop film, it's too superficial to be a serious drama. Woody Harrelson wanders aimlessly through the film, from small bursts of intense acting, to scenes straight out of a high school play. His character is impossible to get a grip on. He's got no confidant and thus no way of communicating what really goes on in his head. Is he a good guy or a bad guy? The film doesn't know, and I don't care, which leaves us with just one question... Why make this film at all?
A big, big disappointment.