Retro Review: Narc

Written: January 14, 2003

Needles, blood-shot eyes, cops with guns, straws of white powder and the destruction of good decent hopeful lives are the kinds of things that “narcotics” officers deal with on a daily basis. Sometimes just watching it for two hours can be a life-changing experience.

In the new movie NARC, we descend back into that world which Hollywood has explored in memorable films such as “Deep Cover”, “Rush” and even the classic “French Connection”.

In the new film, Jason Patric (“Rush”) plays Nick Tellis, a disgraced narcotics officer who is reluctantly pulled into the murder investigation of a fellow undercover officer.

For the investigation, Tellis is teamed with a friend of the deceased cop, Sgt. Henry Oak (Ray Liotta). Oak is a loose-cannon and one mistake away from destroying his career.

Can these two keep their own problems bottled up long enough to solve the case? Or will they turn on each other like starving dogs? Furthermore, what did happen to the dead cop?

Narc opens with a harrowing home-video camera chase, which leaves three people dead and Patric’s character shattered. This scene is utterly brilliant even if it’s hard to watch.

We are pulled kicking and screaming into the ensuing action. This raw aspect of the film is felt a lot throughout. Patric as an actor seems to soar in grittier dramas where his characters are rattled by the world around him.

I really do feel that Patric was playing the same character he played in “Rush” except that his tormented wife, played by Krista Bridges, is a whole new aspect. Are we swept up in this movie more if we do remember Patric in “Rush”?

The scenes involving Patric and new-comer Krista Bridges are so disturbing that they shadow-box your nerves and emotions into check. Bridges is so good that in a lot of her screen-time with Patric, she out acts the man.

There has been a lot of talk about the performance of Ray Liotta in this movie. He has gained some poundage and wields a mean shotgun. But I found that he is playing the same mean “ready-pop” guy he has always played. Sure his fury is intensified and the script does a wonderful job of fleshing out Oaks but haven’t we seen Liotta play this guy before. It could have been a real twist if Liotta played the Patric character. Now that would be something new.

I really found myself liking Narc a lot more after I left the theatre then I did experiencing it. It took a while for the images and the trick ending to sink in for me. Narc does deserve to mentioned in the same breath as other great drug-undercover movies.

(4 out of 5)

So Says the Soothsayer.

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