Dave Brown is a Los Angeles police officer who works out of the Rampart Division. Dave is misogynistic, racist, brutally violent, egotistical and a womanizer, although he defends himself against many of these accusations as he says that his hate is equal opportunity. However unlawful, he uses intimidation and brutal force to defend his ideals. The most notorious of his actions is purportedly murdering a suspected serial date rapist, which is why he has been given the nickname "Date Rape Dave". He lives with two of his ex-wives - sisters Barbara and Catherine - in an effort to keep family together, namely his two daughters, Helen and Margaret, who each have a different sister as their mother. Dave still maintains a sexual relationship with both sisters - whenever the mood suits any of them - while he openly has other sexual relationships. His life is put under a microscope after he is caught on video brutally beating a person with who he got into an automobile crash. This situation is ... Written by
Greetings again from the darkness. Dirty cops happen in real life sometimes and in the movies quite often. It can be an intriguing subject to explore ... psychological demons, ego, power-mongering, etc. Typically we see it presented as a cop torn between doing the right thing and feeling like he is owed something. Rarely do we see a cop portrayed as beyond hope ... so far gone morally that redemption is no longer even a possibility.
Writer James Ellroy (LA Confidential) and director Oren Moverman (The Messenger) present to us Officer Dave Brown, known to his fellow cops (and even his daughter) as "Date Rape" Dave. The moniker stems from a vice incident where Brown dished out street justice to a serial date rapist. With no proof of his guilt, Brown remained on the force and his rogue manner has escalated to the point where he is a constant danger to himself and others. This guy has no moral filter for everyday living.
Officer Brown is played with searing intensity by a Woody Harrelson you have never before seen. As loathsome a character as you will ever find, you cannot take your eyes off of him. He is hated by EVERYONE! Somehow he has daughters by two sisters and they all live together in a messed up commune where hate is the secret word of the day, every day. Most of the time no one speaks to Dave except to tell him to "get out". He spends his off hours drinking, smoking, doing drugs and having meaningless sex. Heck, that's just about how he spends his time while on duty as well.
The supporting cast is phenomenal, though most aren't given but a scene or two. This includes Robin Wright (who nearly matches Dave in the tortured soul department), Sigourney Weaver, Anne Heche, Cynthia Nixon, Ned Beatty, Ben Foster, Ice Cube, and Steve Buscemi. The first hour feels like an Actor's Retreat as most every scene introduces another familiar face.
Still, as terrific as Harrelson is, and as deep as the cast is, the film is just too one note and downbeat and hopeless to captivate a viewer. I also found some of Moverman's camera work to be quite distracting and the sex club scene was pure overkill. Downward spiral is much too neutral a term to describe this character and ultimately, that prevents the film from delivering any type of message.
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