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Narc
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Reviews & Ratings for
Narc More at IMDbPro »

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56 out of 62 people found the following review useful:

A really atmospheric and enjoyable thriller

Author: bob the moo from United Kingdom
16 February 2004

Over a year after he was suspended during an investigation into a shooting when he was undercover, Nick Tellis is given an opportunity to redeem himself by joining an investigation into the murder of another undercover cop who's partner is a suspect. Nick and Henry Oak team up, investigating each other as much as the actual murder. They follow a lead from a junkie but begin to uncover clues that point to police weapons getting onto the black market and the suggestion that someone within the Detroit force is in bed with the junkies.

A small film with big budget problems gets picked up at Sundance and has Tom Cruise's name added to it as executive producer. Thank goodness that this film got bought up and received a bigger audience. It is a shame that more people didn't go and see it but it still isn't bad for a film that was almost shutdown mid-shoot due to budget problems (ie, they didn't have any!). The plot is a good cop thriller in the mould of the old 70's thrillers where the lines between good/bad, right/wrong are pretty blurred. The focus of the film is the mcguffin of the tunnel - what happened, who did what? but the film is much more than that, it has themes of family and scenes of violence and tension that move everything forward. It is easily one of the best films released in 2003. It manages to take a genre that is seen so often and make it feel fresh and enjoyable.

As both writer and director Carnahan is brilliant. His script is well written and has plenty of tough dialogue but it is the feel and look of the film that is brilliant. On top of the toning used to taint each scene (the job is mostly washed out blues, family scenes are reds but gradually lose their taint over the film) the film uses other tricks. The framing of shots are different for each character and it really adds to the film. If you like this film it is worth hunting out the DVD just for the extras, Carnahan talks in detail about the reasons behind the composition of some shots and it is impressive to hear and understand his thought process.

The cast are excellent, although really the film hinges on the two leads. Liotta is as good as he has ever been. It would be easy to just accept his performance as a `powerhouse' but it also has sensitivity, emotion and layers to it. Patric is also good, his themes with family and past are brought up well in a performance that accepts that he is very much secondary to Liotta. Support from Busta Rhymes is minor but he plays it very well, not at all like many hip hop stars who do movies to enhance their bling-bling gangsta personae. There are other solid support roles too, but it really is Liotta and Patric's film.

As a cop thriller this harks back to darker days and it is very effective, with a solid plot and a good sense of the unknown until some solid twists near the end. The film has an impressive style to it and, while Liotta deserves the praise, the success and feel of this film are down to the skills of Carnahan as both writer and director. With his talented and underpaid crew he has turned a good script into a great film.

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50 out of 57 people found the following review useful:

Good movie, great actors

7/10
Author: udeaasykle (udeaasykle@hotmail.com) from Sandnes, Norway
21 August 2004

Seeing that Ray Liotta is one of my favourite actors, I was pretty sure this movie was going to be very good. And it is a good movie. It is dark, well acted and it tells a story of how far some people are willing to go to honour the memory of a friend and colleague. One cop, Nick Tellis, suspended after a stray bullet hits a pregnant woman, is put on a murder investigation of an undercover cop. He teams up with bad ass cop Henry Oak and together they try to solve it. But if everything as it seems? Both lead actors in this movie, Jason Patrick and Ray Liotta, do a great job. You really get the feeling like you are in the movie instead of just watching it. Most of all, the characters are believable and that is so important for a movie like this. If you like thrillers with a dash of action and drama, you will enjoy this movie. I know I did. I rate this movie 7/10

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52 out of 61 people found the following review useful:

Incredible

Author: Identification
6 November 2004

Narc was very, very fast-paced, and at times a little hard to follow... but whatever confusion I felt only added to the stark surrealism of the story. Shots of blue and gray and black, full of dark lines and sharp corners while always real somehow appeared to be strange and deep and profound. The story is gritty, filthy realism--- but I felt as though I were stepping into a completely amazing hallucination.

The acting and everything is brilliant but what really gets me is how well the feelings and the visual come together. The realism and blood becomes something deeply emotional.

I recommend it... unless you want to be all happy and sunny, in which case Narc is not for you.

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44 out of 52 people found the following review useful:

Cerebral Cop Thriller

9/10
Author: Jay Vydelingum from London, England
22 September 2004

The good-cop-bad-cop pairing in movies is so well-worn, that it has practically become a Hollywood institution. Thankfully 'Narc' powerfully smashes the stereotype.

Persuaded back into active service by his bosses, ex narcotics cop Nick Tellis (Jason Patric) finds himself investigating the murder of a fellow officer alongside live-wire new partner Henry Oak (Ray Liotta).

The coupling of Tellis and Oak feels so realistic, you actually understand each character's resentment at being pitched together.

It's this natural mistrust which erases the legacy of Lethal Weapon style buddy relationships, and instead harks back to classic '70s cop movies such as 'Serpico'.

'Narc' bristles with energy, from its heart-stopping hand-held opening chase to its brutal, bloody showdown, all the while framed by cold claustrophobic street scenes.

Director Joe Carnahan probes deep into the characters to discover what drives these men to lay their lives on the line, day in, day out.

It helps that the performance of both leading men is superb. Patric's troubled, introspective Tellis is torn between his loving family and his empathy for the dead undercover cop.

However, it's Liotta - Oak by name, oak by stature - who dominates the film with a career-best performance. Intimidating and brutal but never inhuman, he forces you to remember just how powerful a cinematic presence he can be, given the right material.

'Narc' is a fast-paced, original, gritty thriller that will leave you wanting another fix. 9/10

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31 out of 35 people found the following review useful:

Good, tough and gritty cop film

7/10
Author: rosscinema (rosscinema@comcast.net) from Oceanside, Ca.
30 March 2003

This film reminded me of those cop films from the late 60's and 70's like "The Seven Ups" and "The French Connection" but this film is really dark and dirty. One thing that stands out is the cinematography that I'll describe later. Film opens with a cop chasing a suspect into a park and when shots are fired at one another a pregnant woman gets hit. Month's later the force wants him back to work with an older cop and investigate a cop killing. Jason Patric and Ray Liotta star in this film and its directed by Joe Carnahan who employs a very good visual style to an already familiar story. The film has a dark and gritty look about it that suggests a touch of "Film Noir". One scene in particular stands out and its the one where Patric and Liotta are in a cafe having coffee and talking. The scene is dimly lit with both characters seemingly in shadows. It suggests that both are shadowy figures and have something to hide. Carnahan creates a dark mood for the film that I found very effective. Nothing seems forced here and it creates an indelible aura of bleakness. These are the streets that these cops work in everyday and you can understand some of the personality flaws of the characters. Ray Liotta stands out here and its the type of performance that reminds us why Scorsese cast him in "Goodfellas" in the first place. He gained 25 pounds for the role and along with Tom Cruise and a host of others helped produce this film. All the hard work paid off and I hope studios remember him with more work. He's always been a terrific actor and its hard to forget those eyes of his when he sinks his teeth into a role like this. They're was some talk of him being nominated for an Academy award in the supporting category which would be wrong. Both he and Patric are in the film about the same amount of time. They are both starring roles and its not a supporting performance. Some people complained of the dark edge and mood of the film but thats exactly what I liked about it. Well photographed and very well acted, this is a solid cop film that people should check out.

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36 out of 45 people found the following review useful:

An overlooked gem

9/10
Author: Phil Savory from Northants, England
6 May 2004

Narc is an overlooked gem, a superb cop movie that delivers excellent characters at the expense of needless action.

Jason Patric is an actor I never really rated but he blew me away in this he looks haggard and haunted, you can understand his character completely just from one look in his eyes. Despite Patric's efforts he is surpassed by a career best turn from Ray Liotta, who is menacing and cool at the same time.

Kudos for Joe Carnahan for balancing style with substance perfectly, and the opening to the film is one of the best i've ever seen. This film exudes purity and class, and Carnahan directs with no pressure. I look forward to his next film.

I don't wish to reveal anything on this film because it's best that you just see it cold but fans of Copland or Dark Blue should love this. 9/10

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26 out of 31 people found the following review useful:

A perfect blend of Lumet & Friedkin cop flicks; one of the year's best.

Author: george.schmidt (gpschmidt67@gmail.com) from fairview, nj
23 December 2002

NARC (2002) **** Ray Liotta, Jason Patric, Chi McBride, Krista Bridges, Busta Rhymes, Anne Openshaw, Alan Van Sprang, Richard Chevolleau, John Ortiz. Filmmaker Joe Carnahan delivers the gritty goods in this throwback homage to 1970s cop thrillers the likes made by Sidney Lumet and William Friedkin with this moralilty play about corruption, the brutal slaying of an undercover cop and some skeletons rattling around in closets shared by volatile detective Liotta (in one of his fiercest performances to date; a career high) and Patric (equally compelling; the film's barometer of fair game and confusion), a vice undercover cop attempting to redeem his reputation by being assigned to a dicey investigation of the murder of Liotta's protégé partner with more at stake than meets the eye. Carnahan's script is above average in its no-holds barred depiction of the stress-levels of on the job performances by police as well as the dire consequences for their actions and reactions thereof. High adrenalized from the get-go with one of the most pulse-quickening opening moments of any movie in recent memory that continues its brisk pacing and bruised cinematography by Alex Nepomaniaschy and modulated score by Cliff Martinez has a unique look and sound. Its two principals deliver award calibre performances in a genre flick that's more than a cut above from the usual offerings. Produced by Liotta and Tom Cruise (among others); one of the year's best.

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24 out of 29 people found the following review useful:

Poignant mystery thriller known for its bad cop plus bad cop pairing

8/10
Author: mikepwong from Whistler, BC, Canada
30 January 2004

Rating: 8 out of 10. Written and Directed by Joe Carnahan.

Narc is one of the best movies that I have seen in recent months, I rented it several weeks ago from the video store and caught most of it again just last week on a movie channel. This is a story of bad cop and bad cop working together, which is a relief to me since the good cop plus bad cop pairing is too over done. Joe Carnahan shows that he is an extremely talented writer and director.

I have found myself thinking back to this movie several times since seeing it. It has a unique quality and excellent style to it. It also does not hurt to have good writing and directing that was complimented with the great acting of Jason Patric and Ray Liotta.

Jason Patric is Nick Tellis, an undercover narcotics officer. The movie opens with Tellis chasing a drug dealer through backyards and into a park until the chase ends with a shooting, the suspect gets hit, but so does a pregnant woman that was a bystander. The next scene takes place over a year later, and Tellis is in a boardroom meeting with a police board of inquiry. We find out that the pregnant woman that got shot lost her unborn child and that Tellis has been on an administrative leave all this time for over a year. The board offers him a deal, which is to solve the murder of a slain undercover narcotics officer named Michael Calvess. If he solves this murder, he will be fully reinstated with a choice assignment. Tellis storms out of the meeting declining the offer. A police captain played by Chi McBride follows Tellis out the room and is able to convince Tellis to reconsider.

As Tellis starts to investigate the murder, he requests the help of Calvess' former partner Henry Oak played by Ray Liotta. Initially the police captain says that Oak is off limits to the Calvess case and mentions that Oak is unstable. Oak isn't just unstable, he is a brutal cop, and we see a few flashback scenes of Oak viciously beating up suspects. Police Internal Affairs is always on the look out to find Oak guilty of brutality or planting evidence or any of the violations of conduct that Oak is suspected of doing. What allows Oak to continue to roam around like a vigilante is his impressive work record, the majority of Oak's arrests end up with a conviction. Therefore, Tellis is able to get Oak back onto the case.

As we see Tellis and Oak investigate, we see some very unusual characters and a couple of twists to the storyline. Of course Oak is quite brutal and Tellis is okay with using police brutality at times but is sometimes surprised at Oak's actions and methods. The movie ends with some shocking revelations.

Narc was nominated for a Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival in 2002. Which is not a surprise since this was a very good film.

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21 out of 27 people found the following review useful:

well-made cop flick

Author: Special-K88
24 August 2004

Gritty, hard-edged police thriller from writer-director Joe Carnahan. Held responsible for for a deadly bust that went awry, dedicated veteran narcotics officer—and family man—Patric is reinstated by Internal Affairs on the condition that he aid hotheaded renegade lieutenant Liotta in the investigation of a slain officer whose story doesn't seem to add up. A gripping, in-depth, and atmospheric look at the notorious drug underworld and realm of police corruption. A solid genre film with a sturdy, poised performance from Patric, and an aggressive, forceful performance from Liotta. Plot gets overly convoluted at times but it's still entertaining. ***

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26 out of 40 people found the following review useful:

Brutallic beauty

Author: filmfreak-5 from Denmark
12 January 2004

It took me ages before I could get around to seing this film, but now that I have, I don't know why..

This is a very brutal movie, but a very honest one. In something that in some scenes can almost be described as dogma style, the story is about two cops workings as narcs in the underground. Jason Patric and Ray Liotta are both amazing in thier parts, they both manage to get thier characters out in a way that you actually SEE the persons they portray, instead of "just" the actors playing another role as we sadly see so very often in film these days....they actually ACT!!! Bigtime cudos for these two - I always liked both of them, but this might be the best achievements from them both so far - and especially with Ray Liotta, that says a LOT..

I recommend this film highly...NOT for children though ;-) 7/10

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