Woody Harrelson re-teams with Messenger director Oren Moverman to deliver a dynamite performance as a dirty cop. Set in the scandal-tainted Rampart division of the LAPD, and co-written by James Elroy (L.A. Confidential), this atmospheric odyssey through the underbelly of Los Angeles would make a fine drive-in double bill with Drive. Nicknamed “Date Rape” because of his alleged murder of a rapist, Harrelson’s martini-swilling, drug-taking cop is vicious and corrupt, but he’s more dimensional than a mere Bad Lieutenant. We can’t help but like him. Glimmers of humanity lurk behind the bravado, along with a blundering affection for his daughters and ex-wives. He’s also has a disarming verbosity, which he whips out as a secret weapon every now and then. He’s a brute with a brain. There has already been some Academy Awards buzz for Harrelson’s performance. And after his Messenger nomination, he’s due.  But this kind of tough fare—like Drive and Shame—may be too strong for Oscar’s sensitive palate.

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