Narc

"Good"

Narc Review


A rogue-cop drama with such robust performances and realistic grit that its flirtation with clichés hardly matters, "Narc" strives to bring back the tough authenticity of 1970s police flicks like "Serpico" and "The French Connection."

Jason Patric ("Sleepers") stars as a defiant undercover narcotics badge, struggling his way back into the good graces of the department after being suspended for a shooting, the guilt of which haunts him every day.

The film opens with an over-the-shoulder point-of-view foot chase -- an adrenaline-pumped scramble over fences and through the projects -- that ends with a pregnant bystander losing her baby. It's the incident that landed Patric on paid leave and in a detox program while his own pregnant wife stood by him.

Pushed back into Detroit's drug underworld by a department that needs his still intact cover to investigate the killing of another undercover cop, Patric is paired with Ray Liotta, playing the slain man's vengeful partner, who has no qualms about stomping on the rule book when it serves his own perception of the Greater Good.

As written and directed by Joe Carnahan (whose $7,000 feature "Blood, Guts, Bullets and Octane" made a small splash in 1998), these two detectives are uncommonly unaffected, not just as ardent, hardboiled cops, but as husbands and human beings with their own separate codes of ethics. And as played by the dedicated Patric and Liotta, they leap off the screen with depth and dimension.

"I tell you this," says anguished, widowed Liotta in the kind of guard-dropping heart-to-heart that can arise between tough cops only a during long stakeout, "I became a much better cop the day she died. Any hesitation I had was gone. I'd see a deadbolt door, I'd kick it down -- the first in the room."

This is strong stuff, and both story and characters turn even more engrossing when Patric's investigation comes up against barriers and inconsistencies in the accounts of Liotta's partner's death. Why is access to the files on the dead cop's wife restricted? Was he crooked? Had be become an addict? Why does Liotta blow his top when Patric questions the widow? Is he instigating a cover-up to save the man's reputation and survivor's benefits? Or is he perhaps trying to hide his own duplicity? The guy is shady and wrathful, after all, and willing to beat and threaten suspects in his own manner of justice even though he's already been threatened with indictments for misconduct.

"I'm gonna bag the montherf***ers that killed Mike, and if that means breaking every procedure, they're broke," the graying, vein-popping, life-long cop rages. "His life was worth more than a wreath and a rifle salute."

As conflict between the two cops increases, Carnahan carves new creativity into a familiar genre that's rife with pitfalls, platitudes, shootouts and chases. The story doesn't contain many surprises, but neither is it predictable. It's tense, vividly character driven and not dependent on stock cop character traits. It's refreshing to see a sober movie cop like the one Patric plays, who puts as much effort into being a good father and husband as he does into being a good detective embroiled in his street-scum cover, even as he's troubled on both fronts.

The film is also vividly photographed and edited (a creative, four-quadrant montage shows Patric and Liotta rousting riff-raff for information), giving the film a fresh aesthetic edge.

Ultimately, "Narc" still treads on well-worn ground. But it's such a deeply felt effort with such dedicated performances that it rises above any potential triviality on the strength of Carnahan's stalwart determination to be true to his multifaceted characters and their anything-but-black-and-white world of sullied ethics and malicious street justice.



Narc

Facts and Figures

Run time: 105 mins

In Theaters: Friday 10th January 2003

Box Office USA: $10.2M

Distributed by: Paramount Pictures

Production compaines: Cruise/Wagner Productions, Paramount Pictures, Lions Gate Films

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 83%
Fresh: 130 Rotten: 26

IMDB: 7.2 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Starring: as Det. Lt. Henry Oak, as Det. Sgt. Nick Tellis, Lloyd Adams as Walter Dandridge, Lina Giornofelice as Jeanine Mueller, Alan C. Peterson as Freeman Franks, as Kathryn Calvess, as Darnell 'Big D Love' Beery, as Captain Cheevers

Also starring:

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Wind River Movie Review

Wind River Movie Review

After writing the superb Sicario and Hell or High Water, Taylor Sheridan moves back into...

The Vault Movie Review

The Vault Movie Review

Filmmakers Dan Bush and Conal Byrne attempt a mash-up of a frantic heist movie with...

Goon: Last of the Enforcers Movie Review

Goon: Last of the Enforcers Movie Review

The 2012 Canadian comedy Goon was one of those surprising little films that snuck up...

Detroit Movie Review

Detroit Movie Review

After The Hurt Locker and Zero Dark Thirty, Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal reteam to...

Logan Lucky Movie Review

Logan Lucky Movie Review

Good news: Steven Soderbergh's well-publicised retirement from directing only lasted about four years. He's back...

American Made Movie Review

American Made Movie Review

An enjoyably freewheeling tone and Tom Cruise's star wattage combine to make this an entertaining...

An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power Movie Review

An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power Movie Review

It's been a decade since Al Gore's wake-up-call documentary won the Oscar. And here he...

Advertisement
The Hitman's Bodyguard Movie Review

The Hitman's Bodyguard Movie Review

It really doesn't matter that this movie is utterly ridiculous, because the central pairing of...

Final Portrait Movie Review

Final Portrait Movie Review

A relaxed, amusing true story about noted Swiss painter and sculptor Alberto Giacometti, this sharply...

Tom of Finland Movie Review

Tom of Finland Movie Review

Finnish artist Tuoko Laaksonen used the name "Tom of Finland" as he drew explicit illustrations...

A Ghost Story Movie Review

A Ghost Story Movie Review

Filmmaker David Lowery reunites the stars from his offbeat Western Ain't Them Bodies Saints for...

Atomic Blonde Movie Review

Atomic Blonde Movie Review

From the co-director of John Wick, this similarly styled action romp puts Charlize Theron front...

Girls Trip Movie Review

Girls Trip Movie Review

This movie's premise basically sounds like The Hangover with added black girl power. But it's...

Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie Movie Review

Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie Movie Review

There's so much manic energy in this animated action comedy that it can't help but...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.