Rampart

  • Review Date: November 23, 2011
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 2011

Common Sense Media says

Dark, intense drama about violent, corrupt cop.
  • Review Date: November 23, 2011
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 2011

Age(i)

NOT FOR KIDS

Quality(i)

 

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Focusing intensely on one character, the movie tells of a life gone wrong, with violent mistakes and destructive behavior adding up to loneliness and alienation. The movie's ambiguity yields no indication of redemption or consequences.

Positive role models

The main character -- a violent, shady cop -- commits violence against those he believes are "bad guys," tries to steal money, drinks, smokes, and has sex with many women. Though his life becomes increasingly difficult and lonely and some kind of retribution seems to be around the corner (either good or bad), there are no real consequences here for his many wrongs.

Violence

A motorist accidentally crashes into a cop car; the cop then repeatedly kicks and pummels the man with his nightstick (the scene is captured on video and shown again on television). The same cop also (briefly) beats up a suspect in an interrogation room, shoots a man during a robbery, and bashes a man in a wheelchair with his car door. A man has a heart attack. The main character's nickname is "Date Rape Dave" due to the fact that he once killed a serial rapist. In addition to these incidents, there's a general feeling of simmering anger throughout the movie.

Sex

The main character has a busy sex life. He sleeps with three women during the course of the movie. Though there's no full-on graphic nudity (the main character's behind is briefly on view), the scenes are highly suggestive, with moaning sounds, naked legs, and toe sucking. It's also revealed that he has married two sisters, consecutively, and had a daughter with each of them; at the movie's start, all five of them are living together under the same roof, and the cop quietly asks each of the sisters for sex (and/or cuddling) while at the dinner table, though they both refuse.

Language

Very strong, almost constant language, with just about every word imaginable: "f--k" and all its permutations, "s--t" and all its permutations, "c--k," "p---y," "t-ts," "d--k," "ass," "bitch," "twat," and "goddamn," plus the "N" word and several other racial slurs, like "wetback." The word "c--t" is shown as part of an art collage.

Consumerism
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Though it seems to be the least of his troubles, the main character constantly smokes cigarettes and drinks a great deal. He drinks mostly martinis, at home and in bars, but by the movie's end, he drinks hard liquor in his squad car while on the job. He also shakes down a pharmacist in exchange for prescription drugs. He wakes up with a hangover in one scene, and his daughters discover him drunk in a hotel room. Also, a teen girl is seen smoking a cigarette.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Rampart is a very intense character study about a corrupt Los Angeles police officer. When his beating of a motorist is caught on video, it's a catalyst for his long, slow downfall -- a process that includes several scenes of violence, with the cop beating up or shooting bad guys. He also sleeps with several women over the course of the movie (though no graphic nudity is shown), and language is very strong and almost constant. Plus, the main character drinks and smokes constantly and even illegally obtains prescription drugs from a pharmacy. Director Oren Moverman also helmed The Messenger, which was one of the most acclaimed movies of 2009, but Rampart is much more intense.

Parents say

Kids say

Not yet rated
Review this title!

What's the story?

Los Angeles cop "Date Rape Dave" Brown (Woody Harrelson) lives with an ambiguous mark on his record: the slaying of a serial rapist. Now, in 1999, two more incidents happen in rapid succession. First, he's captured on video beating a motorist who crashed into his squad car. And later, when he tries to profit from a dirty card game, Dave gets involved in a robbery and shoots and kills a man. During the subsequent investigation, he tries to hang onto his family, especially his two daughters. But he also tries to lose himself in anonymous sex, alcohol, smoking, and drugs. Is there any hope for Dave, or is he lost?

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

In 2009, Oren Moverman made his directorial debut with the surprisingly subtle, intelligent, and graceful The Messenger. RAMPART reunites him with his two stars from that film -- Woody Harrelson in the lead and Ben Foster in a smaller role -- but the result is a good deal heavier. Looking at this study of a dirty cop, it's hard not to think of the two great Bad Lieutenant films -- Abel Ferrara's 1992 release and Werner Herzog's 2009 version -- and how they were anguished, operatic, and completely loony.

Moverman's movie is the opposite of its lead character, sober and serious, and with an eye on some kind of social commentary. Moreover, since every scene is intently focused on the main character, the supporting characters -- and the amazing actors who play them -- never get a chance to shine. But Harrelson is given a great challenge, and he more than rises to the occasion. And the screenplay, co-written by Moverman and novelist James Ellroy, often has an appealingly poetic rhythm.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about Rampart's violence. Every time the main character does something violent, he finds a way to justify it. Is there such a thing as justified violence? Does the main character's violence ever contribute to anything good?

  • Though the movie shows very little nudity, there are a lot of sexual situations. What's the difference between nudity and a sexual situation? Do intimacy or trust enter into this equation? Parents, talk to your teens about your own values on these topics.

  • The character drinks a lot of alcohol. Are the consequences of his drinking realistic?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:November 23, 2011
DVD release date:May 15, 2012
Cast:Brie Larson, Ned Beatty, Robin Wright Penn, Woody Harrelson
Director:Oren Moverman
Studio:Millennium Entertainment
Genre:Drama
Run time:108 minutes
MPAA rating:R
MPAA explanation:pervasive language, sexual content and some violence

This review of Rampart was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

Find out more

Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

Find out more

Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging, great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging, good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging, good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging, okay learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

Find out more

About our buy links

When you use our links to make a purchase, Common Sense Media earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes. As a nonprofit organization, these funds help us continue providing independent, ad-free services for educators, families, and kids while the price you pay remains the same. Thank you for your support.

See more about how we rate and review.

What parents and kids say

See all user reviews

Share your thoughts with other parents and kids Write a user review

A safe community is important to us. Please observe our guidelines

Parent Written byElena K April 30, 2012
AGE
17
QUALITY
 

not for kids

not for kids

What other families should know
Too much sex

Poll

Did our review help you make an informed decision about this product?

Top Kids' Movies: An Essential Guide for Families