Review by: Jack Foley | Rating:
DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: Commentary by writer/director Joe Carnahan
and editor John Gilroy; Making The Deal; Shooting Up; The Visual
Trip; The Friedkin Connection; Theatrical trailer.
BILLED as a homage to gritty classics such as The French Connection
and Serpico, writer/director Joe Carnahans Narc signals
its intent early on, with a devastatingly brutal chase, and grips
like a vice throughout.
The film is an astonishingly powerful performance piece which
grabs you from the off, seldom refusing to pull its punches in
its realistic depiction of the dark underbelly of the drug world.
Jason Patric stars as suspended narcotics officer, Nick Tellis,
who is drawn back to the force to investigate the brutal murder
of a young police officer, killed in the line of duty.
A former drug addict himself, Tellis is seen as the ideal candidate
to expose the truth behind the crime, given that many of his contacts
remain uncompromised since his departure from the force.
Enlisting the support of Ray Liottas Henry Oak, the slain
officers partner, who will stop at nothing to avenge his
friends death, the two find themselves being drawn deeper
and deeper into a twisted world of narcotics which threatens to
bring both of them down.
Carnahans movie was nominated for the Dramatic Grand Jury
Prize at last years Sundance Film Festival (always a strong
indicator of the years best independent releases) and has
the high-profile backing of its star, Liotta, who also produces,
as well as Tom Cruise and Paula Wagner (who executive produce).
Yet it remains a million miles away from the mainstream, due
to its unflinching depiction of the world it seeks to expose,
a world in which the narcs are equally as prone to becoming addicts
as the dealers themselves.
Carnahans film was inspired by the critically-acclaimed
documentary, The Thin Blue Line, which focused on the actual slaying
of a Dallas police officer in 1976 and was first developed as
a short film, entitled Gun Point, in 1994.
Yet the talented filmwriter became so fascinated by the subject
that he opted to develop the theme further, producing a script
that was quickly pounced upon by Liotta, who had been seeking
a project to launch his own production company.
The result is a heavyweight movie which leaves you feeling punch-drunk
throughout, an adrenaline ride fuelled by some incendiary performances.
Patric is superb - confused, sympathetic and struggling to do
the right thing - while Liotta delivers the type of performance
he has been threatening since Goodfellas.
If Denzel Washington hadnt walked off with the best actor
Oscar last year for his dirty cop, then Liottas morally
dubious veteran would be a strong favourite this time around.
Carnahan, too, emerges as a name to watch for the future, delivering
a raw and unflinching tour-de-force. The mean streets of Detroit
form the backdrop and almost envelope the viewer in the crime
and grime which surround them; making you feel dirty as a result.
Yet Narc is that type of film; an intense potboiler that leaves
you breathless throughout; a movie which, like those that it cites
as references, bears all the hallmarks of a classic. It really
shouldnt be missed.