Time: 105 Minutes
Age Rating: Contains Graphic Violence, Drug Use & Offensive Language
Jason Patric as Nick Tellis
Ray Liotta as Henry Oak
Chi McBride as Captain Cheevers
Stacey Farber as Young Kathryn
Alan van Sprang as Michael Calvess
John Ortiz as Octavio Ruiz
Busta Rhymes as Darnell ‘Big D Love’ Beery
Director: Joe Carnahan
Tells the dark story of suspended undercover narcotics officer, Nick Tellis (Jason Patric), who is reluctantly drawn back onto the force to find the truth behind the murder of a young police officer killed in the line of duty. He is teamed with Henry Oak (Ray Liotta), the slain officer’s partner, a rogue cop who will stop at nothing to avenge his friend’s death. As Tellis and Oak unravel the case, the dark underbelly of the narcotics world reveals itself in surprising ways.
I heard a little bit about Narc before going in. All I really knew about it was that it was a crime movie starring Jason Patric and Ray Liotta and directed by Joe Carnahan, who also directed Smokin’ Aces and The Grey, both of them being movies that I liked. Narc is also a pretty underrated movie that not a lot of people have seen or know about. It’s not great but if you really like crime dramas and thrillers, I’d say that it is well worth a watch.
Narc is not that long, at around an hour and 40 minutes long but it makes the most of that runtime. This is a familiar cop drama and doesn’t really do anything really new, especially with the pair up with two completely different cops. Nonetheless for what it is, it’s pretty good, and the story is pretty intriguing, and it ties together nicely towards the end. It’s a very bleak and gritty crime thriller and goes all in on that, and I liked it for that. The twists were well handled, you can’t necessarily predict which way the story is going in. Even when I had some vague idea where it might go, certain parts were different from what I expected it to be, especially the ending. I guess if I had some problems outside of the familiarity of the story, the subplots don’t work quite as well, which is mainly Jason Patric’s family life with his wife and baby. It’s a pretty typical thing for a cop drama to focus on, but it feels rather underdeveloped and we only have a few scenes of it to see, so we don’t really care about that aspect as much as I think the movie wanted us to. Though it wasn’t bad, and most of the story was handled well.
There isn’t a huge cast involved, but the acting all around was great. Jason Patric is basically the lead character in the story, an undercover cop returning from suspension after a fatal mistake that he made during a previous case. I haven’t seen Patric in a lot, but he played his role very well. It’s Ray Liotta here who particularly stands out, giving one of his best performances as a really hardened and rough cop. Liotta gives him a lot of depth and elevates the character even further. The two actors are the driving force of the movie, and while the whole younger and more straight laced cop paired with the rough and aggressive veteran cop is something that has been done many times before, Patric and Liotta’s dynamic make it really work. The supporting actors were good as well, from Patric’s wife played by Krista Bridges and even Busta Rhymes was really good.
Joe Carnahan’s direction was quite good, even though I’d say that this isn’t his best movie. At times it feels like Carnahan went a little too much regarding the editing, really stylistic at random points with split screens, montages and the like. But the really rough and messy portrayal of everything fitted the tone of the movie rather well.
Narc is a movie that hasn’t really been noticed by most people and is worth a watch, an overlooked little gem. The story isn’t really anything that special and the movie on the whole is rather familiar, but the performances from Patric and Liotta, as well as Joe Carnahan’s direction, do make it well worth watching.