Rampage (1987) - William Friedkin
Based on true events, William Friedkin's Rampage tells the story of Charles Reece, a seemingly normal guy who goes on a killing spree, mutilating his victims in unspeakable ways. He is eventually captured for his crimes and brought into the courtroom where DA Anthony Fraser is the chief prosecutor. Torn between his personal views and the unflinching reality of the heinous crimes committed by Reece, he decides to argue for the death penalty. The film begins with the viewer following Charles Reece on his killing spree with harrowing effect. Friedkin doesn't hold back in showing the cold-spirited nature of these murders and he does so with great atmosphere. From the cinematography to a chilling score, Friedkin creates a dark tone that feels very appropriate considering the sadistic nature of Reece's crimes. Friedkin's Rampage is not a film about murder but about the definition of legal insanity and how it is applied in modern American courts. Friedkin's stance on this difficult issue seems pretty clear, given which side our main protagonist is on, but I don't think the film is nearly as manipulative or as one-sided as I was lead to believe. Friedkin shows both arguments fairly, routinely managing to change the viewers mind multiple times throughout the films running time. Perhaps that is Rampage's best attribute, its ability to capture the murky definition of insanity and how it is applied in our justice system.
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