My Flickchart Ranking: #934
[disclaimer: I had to cut out of the last 20 minutes of the film to get in line for the next screening. My review only reflects up until that point. It might have gotten better.]
I can count the number of Police Dramas I’ve seen on one hand, and for good reason. The genre just doesn’t interest me all that much. Some of it has to do with the trappings of the genre – the rogue cop with aviator shades, the hardened chief ready to kick ass and the sarcastic detective who is more or less a jerk – but a majority of it is just that the plots are never all that engaging. And this film is no exception.
Rampart is the story of Dave Brown (Woody Harrelson), a hard-boiled police officer caught in the middle of a scandal involving the LA Rampart division. As his career deteriorates, so does his personal life. His wife and ex-wife kick him out of their homes, and his estranged daughter defies him every chance she gets. The only means he has to cope are through his job and his evening trysts with Linda, played by Robin Wright. Eventually, even those come under fire.
His career as a director spanned seven decades, starting in the Forties with a small job on an early religious program and ending in 2000 with the action-mystery Reindeer Games. With such meager and lifeless bookends, one might question the abilities of director John Frankenheimer, who passed away shortly after his final film at the age of 93. But as poet laureate for Generation Z Miley Cyrus so eloquently sings, “It’s the climb,” and Frankenheimer’s climb was one populated with a tense body of expertly crafted films that brought action and suspense to breathless new heights. His last great work paired him with a tight script and three brilliant actors for some of the most dizzying and fun car chases this side of The French Connection. But in this week’s Reel Rumbles, Ronin has some fierce competition out of Michael Mann, another talented director, with a film that many consider to be his finest hour. A loose remake of his previous made-for-TV effort L.A. Takedown (1989), Heat won the praise of critics and audiences alike, and built a bridge between an overlooked cadre of masterpieces and a prominent career for the director that continues today. Study the blueprints, sync your watches, and get ready for the big score. It’s time for Heat vs. Ronin.