If you’ve seen one gritty police thriller, you’ve seen them all and Narc is no exception to this rule. It does feature some interesting twists to the usual story of an undercover cop. However, the main bulk of the movie is a familiar blend of mystery, crime, and tough characters. So, we’re talking about a classical neo-noir thriller that will keep you engaged for ninety minutes. Especially if you’re in the middle of your obsession with Police Movies. And although the characters are fairly stereotypical they are very well developed and amplified by excellent performances by Liotta and Patrick.
The script is tight, offering intelligent and intense dialogues. However, the mystery surrounding the case is the thing that drives Narc forward. Right from the incredibly intense opening scene, it starts building this dark and fucked up world. Characters we meet are all fucked up in their own ways, adding more to the overall sense of despair. And the locations are also quite depressing. Jason Patrick said that the chop shop was “one of the most miserable, uncomfortable environments he’d ever filmed in”. And, by the way, it was a real chop shop until it was raided by police.
After a horrific accident, undercover narcotics officer Nick Tellis finds himself in a strange place. Burned out and damaged, he wants a desk job that will make sure he comes home to his wife and kids. So, when Captain Cheevers offers him a deal that will land him one, he accepts. All he has to do know is to find out what happened to another undercover cop, Michael Calvess. Little did Nick know that this job will turn out more dangerous than he ever thought.
Narc features steady pacing and engaging storytelling. The atmosphere is thick and dark. There are several bizarre scenes that are even funny but still drenched in that darkness and moral ambiguity. The same goes for the visual style. It reminded me of Copland and Dark Blue, two great gritty police thrillers. And while we’re dropping names, I can’t help mentioning Dragged Across Concrete and Brawl in Cell Block 99, more recent but similarly themed movies.
Now, I know you’ve must have seen dozens and dozens of movies or television shows detailing just how much this job fucks you up. However, Narc approaches this theme from various angles and makes it feel authentic. Mostly because there wasn’t any emotional milking or anything like that. Things unfolded naturally, just as they should. So, be sure to check it out.
Director: Joe Carnahan
Writer: Joe Carnahan
Cast: Ray Liotta, Jason Patric, Chi McBride, Lloyd Adams, Krista Bridges, Karen Robinson, A.C. Peterson
Fun Facts: The word “fuck” and its variations appear 298 times.