Narc is the kind of movie that makes you forget the dark patches on both Jason Patrick and Ray Liotta’s resumes. You remember Patrick in Rush, and forget about Liotta in Operation Dumbo Drop.
The story is simple enough, and almost clichéd. When the trail on a murder investigation of a policeman goes cold, an undercover narcotics officer, Detective Sgt. Nick Tellis (Patrick), is teamed with loose-cannon detective Henry R. Oak (Liotta) to solve the case. It’s old hat – the good cop teamed with a out-of-control cop – we’ve seen it in movies and on television for as long as there have been police dramas, but when it is treated with the kind of conviction and intensity that Liotta and Patrick bring to their roles it seems fresh and compelling. Both play cops who cross the line into unlawful behavior in order to do their jobs, and have both become tainted by their experiences. Narc explores what happens to a good cop when he is forced to break the law.
Visually director Joe Carnahan captures the feel of the mean streets, using a grainy film stock and handheld cameras to underline not only the dirt, but the energy of the street and the sleazy underbelly in which these two men operate.
Narc is a great cop movie, but it has a generic title, and a grainy feel to it that I don’t think audiences will connect with because they want to see something glitzy, something happy, something that is going to make them feel a little better. Hopefully it’s the kind of movie that will build a nice cult following on DVD.