17) Rampart [5.5]

Officer Dave Brown is a Vietnam vet and a Rampart Precinct cop, dedicated to doing “the people’s dirty work” and asserting his own code of justice, often blurring the lines between right and wrong to maintain his action-hero state of mind. (2012)

*Some vague spoilers below.*

In literature and film, a static character is one who remains the same and doesn’t make any important changes about themselves from the beginning to the end of a story. Conversely–and what we see more frequently–are dynamic characters, that for better or worse become a somewhat different person by the conclusion of the story. In regards to Woody Harrelson’s Dave Brown in Rampart, the character somehow falls somewhere between static and dynamic. And for a racist, homophobic, brutally violent (and scarily, extremely violent) cop, that may be a problem for some viewers.

Throughout Rampart we see Dave doing awful things and occasionally taking joy in it. His home life is broken, but he can still easily bed any woman he meets. For most of the runtime, it appears that he can worm his way out of any situation with just his intellect. It’s frustrating, even more so when you become aware of Rampart being based on a true story. To his credit, Woody Harrelson provides depth to this despicable character, and even as he begins to see the light, he never makes Dave likable.

At one point, Dave admits that he’ll never change. Would it even make a difference if he did? Regardless of how many “bad guys” he killed, there are a number of people that just happened to get in his way. If he were to completely recognize the error of his ways and make a change, it would seem like a cop out of sorts. That leaves us somewhere in the middle, which may make for a good conversation on Rampart, but not an altogether satisfying viewing.

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