Narc (2002)

Narc (2002)
  • Time: 105 min
  • Genre: Crime | Mystery | Thriller
  • Director: Joe Carnahan
  • Cast: Ray Liotta, Jason Patric, Chi McBride


An undercover narc dies, the investigation stalls, so the Detroit P.D. brings back Nick Tellis, fired 18-months ago when a stray bullet hits a pregnant woman. Tellis teams with Henry Oak, a friend of the dead narc and an aggressive cop constantly under the scrutiny of internal affairs. They follow leads, informants turn up dead, Nick’s wife is unhappy he’s back on the street, Henry’s protective of the dead cop’s wife. Nick reads and re-reads the case file, broods, watches Oak’s heavy-handed style, sometimes joining in. The brass want to close out the case, Nick and Henry stay on it, and bits of evidence point them to an auto body shop. What actually happened; will Nick ever know?

One comment

  • Just think about how far we’ve come in the years since “The New Centurions,” when it had to be explained to us that police officers could have problems at home and were sometimes imperfect in the execution of their jobs.

    There may be drearier locations to film in than the ones dug up for this film but it’s hard to imagine what they’d look like. The two edgy partners seem to be constantly framed by the graffiti painted on the peeling walls behind them. But, in any case, these two cops are pretty fully worked out characters instead of the usual cartoons — Danny Glover and Mel Gibson, Clint Eastwood and whoever. Jason Patric wears his guilt on his sleeve, while Ray Liotta desperately covers his own with a cloak of anger. Patric, while nobody’s idea of a sissy, looks like the kind of guy who, freshly deloused and properly whipped into submission, could be turned into a priest. There is no such possibility for Liotta. With his elevator shoes and extra poundage the best he could hope for would be a spot in the zoo.

    This isn’t a great movie but it’s a relatively good one. When people get whacked with a gun butt they fall down and bleed, and they have trouble getting back on their feet. The language is that of the streets. You never feel that the writers, the director, or the performers think they’s doing something outre in so often using — well, let’s call them the “f” word and the “m” word. Cussing comes as casually to these guys as it does to guests at a hip cocktail party.

    But I don’t mean to suggest that the movie is a sellout. This is not a blood and brains fest. A few shots are fired on screen (and some in which we are even deprived of the bullet’s impact) but not a big show is made of them. There is no real climactic shootout and no high-speed pursuit ending in a flaming fireball. There is some taste being exhibited on the screen. Kids who enjoy seeing someone’s head rolling in the gutter will walk away disappointed.

    It’s rather well done, in the end, with some surprising twists. It’s a cop movie — and it avoids being bad. I mean that as a compliment.

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