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Movies

Woody Harrelson lays down the law in ‘Rampart’

“RAMPART’’

Millennium Entertainment

“RAMPART’’

You can see where Woody Harrelson would be keen to collaborate with filmmaker Oren Moverman, who cast the actor as a casualty-notification officer in the military drama “The Messenger,” and as a similarly complicated LA cop in “Rampart” (2012). Harrelson hasn’t had a double shot of roles this richly provocative since the days of “Natural Born Killers” and “The People vs. Larry Flynt.” Harrelson plays Dave Brown, an LAPD vet who’s been abusing his authority for years. The film’s personification of corruption and racism is familiar – see “Colors,” “Southland,” and on and on – but Harrelson’s take is different, as he spirals downward stubbornly. He won’t admit to wrongdoing after beating a man, just as he won’t admit that he’s made a mess of his personal life. (The movie matter-of-factly establishes Harrelson as having a daughter with ex Cynthia Nixon, and another with ex Anne Heche – copacetic Nixon’s sister. “Big Love”?) This bad cop is less inclined to rage than to spout some of the script’s uniquely cadenced dialogue. “I want to explicate the LAPD’s somewhat hyperbolized misdeeds with true panache,” he shrugs. “Capiche?” Extras: You wonder how much such lines owe to the film’s co-writer, James Ellroy, but a half-hour featurette doesn’t specify. What is clear is the credibility that “The Messenger” gave Moverman with a stocked cast that includes Sigourney Weaver, Robin Wright, and Ben Foster. (Millennium Entertainment, $28.99; Blu-ray, $29.99)

DRAMA/BIOPIC

W.E. (2012)

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There’s no mistaking director Madonna’s affinity for subject Wallis Simpson (Andrea Riseborough), whose romance with Britain’s King Edward VIII (James D’Arcy) infamously led to his abdication. There’s the flair for the fashionable, the Yankee expat immersion in all things English, and a bluntly stated theme about perhaps under-acknowledged sacrifices of privacy and reputation. The territory is capably handled by Madonna and her co-writer, “Truth or Dare” director Alek Keshishian. But they approach fragrance-ad silliness with an intercut story line about a wealthy, neglected New York housewife (Abbie Cornish) who also identifies with Wallis. Extras: Madge talks history and filmmaking technique. (Anchor Bay, $29.98; Blu-ray, $39.99; available now)

ACTION

HAYWIRE (2012)

Perennial experimentalist Steven Soderbergh has given an adult film star a legit showcase with “The Girlfriend Experience,” so now he takes a crack at doing the same for mixed martial arts fighter Gina Carano with this lean spy thriller. Carano is raw but compelling — at times, she’s got the appearance of Kate Hudson’s bulked-up tomboy sister — and she’s got help from the showy ensemble Soderbergh attracts (Ewan McGregor, Michael Douglas, Michael Fassbender, etc.). An intriguing exercise in crafting espionage suspense without sweating exposition. Extras: Normally loquacious commentator Soderbergh defers to a featurette all about Carano, complete with MMA footage. (Lionsgate, $29.95; Blu-ray, $39.95; available now)

SCIENCE FICTION

UNDERWORLD
AWAKENING
(2012)

Vampires and werewolves are back at each other’s throats in a sequel overly eager to assert that monster mashes aren’t about “Twilight” melodrama. Kate Beckinsale wriggles back into her catsuit as Selene, thawed after a human purge of vampires and Lycans that left her in cryo-freeze. India Eisley is the young girl who now shares a psychic link with her, and special abilities — a relationship the movie would have benefited from really examining. 3-D highlight: Lycan-busting silver nitrate bombs that detonate like an action-movie snow globe. Extras: commentary by filmmaking duo Mans Marlind and Björn Stein (“Shelter”); featurettes. (Sony, $30.99; Blu-ray, $35.99; 3-D, $40.99)

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