Narc (**½)

Posted on January 1st, 2003 in Movie Reviews by EngineerBoy

Narc has all the ingredients of a four star movie. As it stands, it’s almost a three star movie, but not quite. Ray Liotta is pitch perfect as the large, menacing cop, and Jason Patric is solid as his partner-come-lately. The story was compelling, and I did not see the ending coming at all, even though it flowed and fit perfectly with the storyline (it wasn’t some jarring twist out of left field). It is difficult to find movies where the ending is unforeseen and satisfying, but not ridiculous nor done for shock value, but this one was smoothly and skillfully done. Joe Carnahan, the writer/director, definitely seems to have a future, and I’ll be very interested to see his next film.

But there were some parts of this film that didn’t work for me. There one or two overlong declamations, one or two too many flashbacks/flashforwards/flashsideways/flashthroughblurrylenses, and one or two too many dilapidated tenements peopled with one or two too many drug addicts/dealers.

But there is also some good stuff here. Carnahan does not underestimate the audience, and you have to pay attention to pick up on certain things. If you wait for the movie to go back and explain what just happened, well, you’re out of luck if you missed it or didn’t get it the first time. I like that in a movie – don’t hide stuff from the audience, but also don’t zoom in on it with the melodramatic music playing to make sure we know “this is important”. Play it the way it should play within the story and let the audience figure out what’s important. I love that. And this movie does it right.

Also, the scenes of family and home life ring painfully true, and the interactions of Liotta’s and Patric’s characters don’t blindly follow the cop/partner/gritty/action/buddy script that we all know so well.

Overall this movie was very close to 3 stars for me, but not quite. Still, Narc is a very solid 2.5 stars, and I feel it was worth the price of admission and investment of time.

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