[MOVIE REVIEW]Hot acting injection makes ‘Narc’ a big hitLove grit? Gore? Profanity non-strategically placed at the end of every sentence? Well then. Voila, “Narc.”
All right, there’s more to “Narc” than that description. But that’s how it seems at times, especially when compared to the other films in the theaters at the moment ― happy-go-lucky (in some cases, happy-go-duh) movies like “Johnny English” and “Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle.” “Narc” picked an unfortunate date for its release in America as well, hitting theaters during the jovial season of Santa.
Despite this incongruous matchup between the movie’s violent nature and its release date, “Narc” manages to shine, providing an intense, entirely unromantic view of police life that has been all but lost since “The French Connection.”
The film starts with a desperate chase scene between the undercover cop Nick Tellis (Jason Patric) and a drug dealer. The seat-gripping excitement heightens when the dealer threatens to plunge a heroin-filled syringe into a child he’s holding hostage. Nick wildly opens fire, killing the criminal, but not before sending a stray bullet into the side of a pregnant woman standing by. Nick is suspended from duty for 18 months, during which he suffers from the memory of what he did to the woman and her unborn baby.
Nick tries to transfer from being a street-prowling undercover cop to a quieter life at a desk job, but is flatly refused ― unless he is willing to take on a special case.
The search for the killers of another narcotics agent has hit a dead end, and it is up to Nick to uncover the killers. The murdered cop’s former partner Henry Oaks (Ray Liotta) is paired up with Nick to solve the case. Emotions start to run high between these two, whose personalities and methods of executing justice cannot be more different.
The tale is complex, with twists and turns and dicey supporting characters (take rapper Busta Rhymes for instance). But writer-director Joe Carnahan keeps “Narc” tight, focusing on the storyline and storyline only (as soon as the movie hits its conclusion, the movie just finishes, no denouement in sight, leaving the slightly baffled audience gawking).
Carnahan is a skilled director, but his script lacks all-around luster.
Understandably, this is a cop drama, and, true to its form, it keeps up the barrage of insults as salty as you might hear, well, in a cop drama.
The best aspect about this movie its perfect casting. Mr. Patric and Mr. Liotta (who reportedly gained 40 pounds for this role) are awesome. Their performances, and the supporting characters, make this movie what it is.
It is one of the few police films that can honestly carry the powerful legacy of the cop dramas of the ’70s.
by Kim Hyun-jung