RAMPART: Notes on “Date Rape Dave”

When an admittedly racist, controlling, sexist LAPD officer named Dave Brown is caught on camera nearly beating a man to death, his personal and professional life slip out of his control faster than he seems ever to have imagined possible.

He has two wives -sisters- and two young daughters, who feel as though he’s neglected them while, all at once, keeping them pinned under his thumb. When his professional history is called into question, as part of a larger issue of the reformation in the LAPD, the women in his life collectively see it as their own validation of his bad behavior and general inhumanity. Woody Harrelson plays “Date Rape Dave” with just the right amount of faulty ego and restless charm. Viewers can understand his frame of mind, but aren’t given enough rope to sympathize- which is, in this case, pretty brilliant.

I got lost during a scene where Dave enters into an underground sex club, stuffs mushy green slime down his throat, throws up next to a dom/sub couple, and staggers out angrily into the damp night as alone as he started off. The mess -and fierce if not blinding strobe lights- seemed an excessive turn in a plot that already contained plenty of affairs, shootings, beatings, and curse-fests. On top of being lost visually, I did not understand the majority of Dave’s cop-slurs at other cops. Fair enough: Dave Brown is a bad guy who catches other bad guys, but if he didn’t have a badge, it looks like he would just be bad.

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