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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 31.11%
Average: 13.33%
Pretty Bad: 3.33%
Total Crap: 4.44%

6 reviews, 54 user ratings

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by EricDSnider

"Nothing new, but it's a smart, competent telling of nothing new."
4 stars

There is a grittiness in Joe Carnahan's "Narc" that seems forced. In the film's opening moments, a man is stabbed in the neck, causing him to choke on his own blood; and then a pregnant woman is shot. All of this is accompanied by realistic screaming and commotion that may give the film "street cred," but which also smells like a case of trying too hard.

For when you boil it down, "Narc" is just like a thousand cop dramas before it, and in particular like a lot of TV shows that focus on loose-cannon law-enforcement officers. The crazy one here is Henry Oak (Ray Liotta), a brutal narcotics officer whose partner was recently killed. Pretty much the only significant difference between Oak and the protagonists in "NYPD Blue" and "The Shield" is that they can't say the F word; you can see, then, why the film would try so hard to convince us it's not just another cop drama.

Oak is joined in his search for his partner's killers by Nick Tellis (Jason Patric), a former narc who has been taken out of active duty after making some questionable decisions in a moment of crisis. His wife, Audrey (Krista Bridges), wants him safe, and he wants the same thing: In exchange for a cushy desk job, he agrees to help find the cop killers.

The path is not smooth, of course, and Tellis learns things about the dead cop that Oak either didn't know or chose to ignore. It affects Tellis' marriage, which is nothing more than obligatory; curiously brought up and then disregarded is the idea that the police force is looking for a scapegoat in the murder to avoid a race riot.

But it is all very slickly told, and well acted to boot. Jason Patric's mix of weariness and fervor is perfect for Tellis, and Ray Liotta strikes just the right combination of toughness and believability for Oak. Two possible revelations about Oak's character are presented, and Liotta has done such a thorough job in establishing the character that, rather than one option being obvious and the other absurd, we find we could honestly believe either of them. (Credit should be given to Carnahan, too, who knows how to include important scenes without labeling them "Important Scene.")

The plot has one neat little twist, and then another one, and then possibly a third, depending on how you look at it -- all just enough to convince us we're seeing something new. It's nothing more than an extra-gritty cop show, but it's a competent one.

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originally posted: 01/27/03 08:23:20
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2002 Sundance Film Festival. For more in the 2002 Sundance Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

12/08/17 morris campbell gritty compelling cop movie 4 stars
1/18/12 hurdygurdy man Not bad. 4 stars
10/26/09 Boy76 Most people agree that it is legitimate for jewelers to make ornaments out of raw gold, but 2 stars
10/23/09 Gangster57 These two modifications allowed the aging network to expand the scope of its reach to inc 5 stars
10/22/09 Settor26 Which backfired because that pissed her off. , 5 stars
5/20/09 the dork knight somewhat decieving mystery (macguffin) with a cast so good, I wanted more 4 stars
2/15/07 johnnyfog I still can't believe that was Jason Patric! Outstanding movie 5 stars
2/01/07 William Goss Gritty style, great performances make up for underwhelming, overwrought plot. 4 stars
4/02/06 Dillon Gritty and real cop drama. Liotta and Patric are great 5 stars
9/05/05 R.W. Welch Urban cop flick has good plotting but is slightly overwrought -- steady fever pitch. 4 stars
8/04/05 Hockeytown Gripping reality, raw and visceral. Don't waste your time trying to find its equal. 5 stars
7/31/05 yuko great movie 5 stars
7/11/05 Indrid Cold Liotta is awesome as usual, but on the whole it's just a drop in the police drama ocean. 3 stars
12/02/04 lucas great acting by both leads 5 stars
8/16/04 Dallas Moye Best cop movie ever 5 stars
6/21/04 Rock Hound Just another yarn about corrupt cops: actually, they ALL are, really, and I ought to know.. 2 stars
5/06/04 J.Peckerfoot dave told me it was awesome, i thought it was just good. 3 stars
3/22/04 Keifer Sutherland_RULZ This is may not be the best film but... It beats watching 'Training Day'. 5 stars
1/08/04 Shane Myers!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Better then TRIAING DAY is very much right AD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 5 stars
1/03/04 A F That was a let down. 2 stars
9/18/03 AD better then training day 5 stars
9/17/03 Jinnvisible Angst(lots of close ups),claustophbic(set indoors),Cop,(same ole) ,Good facial hair though 3 stars
8/21/03 Piz Everything you would expect from a 2-hr crime/thriller flick 4 stars
8/15/03 Paul Dempsey Why can't a film like this get made in Australia I wonder? Low budegt yet top notch quality 5 stars
8/15/03 Double G pissing is more entertaining 1 stars
8/07/03 Monday Morning Gripping. I gripped my remote control and shut it off. 3 stars
7/30/03 Dr. Bitterpants I liked it in 1992 when it was originally called "NYPD BLUE: SEASON I." Same old stuff. 3 stars
7/06/03 Mr. Hat (I'm Back MoFos!!!) Liotta deserves an Oscar, the camerawork is great, and the finale is awesome! 5 stars
6/18/03 Jack Sommersby Superb perfs by Patric and Liotta slightly redeem a palpably absurd screenplay. 3 stars
5/23/03 Johnny One of the best drama of the year 5 stars
5/17/03 planetlucas twisted shit, kind of depressing 4 stars
3/14/03 Ashley Corpening What a piss-stream of consciousness-numbing! Incoherent and insufferable. 1 stars
2/14/03 Andrew Carden Ray Liotta - It's Your Birthday! 5 stars
2/11/03 Syrinx Great cop flick, but the cinematography makes you a little airsick. Ray Liotta was awesome. 4 stars
2/04/03 ownerofdajoint pactric and liotta put on a great show!!! 5 stars
2/01/03 Jimmy Jamez gripping stuff 5 stars
1/31/03 rue the whirl fuck king awes some 5 stars
1/27/03 adrianna GOOD MOVIE THAT KEPT YOU ON YOUR FEET. 4 stars
1/26/03 Mr Math Truly awesome flick, deserving of Oscar merit. Don't wait until video, see NARC 5 stars
1/24/03 meathole Holy fuck!!! Amazing!!! 5 stars
1/19/03 othree U already kno the butler did it Patric Liotta always deliver heroic even if the story wsnt 4 stars
1/18/03 john contrary to an earlier review Tillis's home life don't bog this film adds to it 5 stars
1/16/03 Bill everything a movie should be...the acting was phenominal 5 stars
1/15/03 nick2k didnt need to see busta though. 5 stars
1/14/03 ajay I can't say it enough, "Fuckin' Awsome!" 5 stars
1/12/03 Uncle Salty Liotta and Patric were on thier game from frame one. Excellent. 5 stars
1/12/03 Mr Math Hard-hitting stuff, Patric used right. 5 stars
1/12/03 Snake MASTER-PIECE! 5 stars
1/07/03 Flounder I guess I am in the minority here but this film sucked big time 1 stars
1/07/03 Ted Knutson Incredible. A must see for the discerning film watcher. 5 stars
1/01/03 Jesse the Movie Ventura This was a nicely told typical story. Well worth the drive to the Arclight in Hollywood. 5 stars
12/31/02 Don Great.............. 5 stars
12/25/02 Mason Really Good 5 stars
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  20-Dec-2002 (R)



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