Narc (2002)

Rating: C+

Dir: Joe Carnahan
Star: Jason Patric, Ray Liotta, Busta Rhymes, Chi McBride

There is something more than a little retro about this film; it feels like a 70’s police thriller in the vein of Serpico. Patric plays a cop pulled back on duty after getting too into his undercover junkie life [if this sounds familiar too, you’ve perhaps seen him do this before, in Rush] He has to find the murderers of a cop who was in exactly that role, alongside the victim’s partner (Liotta), who has a 93% conviction rate and will let nothing interfere with getting his men. Any men. Whether they happen to be guilty or not…

Anchored by a pair of strong performances from the two leads, the movie’s origin as a short is too obvious, with a number of scenes which seem plugged in or overlong. Some of these are well-handled and entertaining – the Hispanic with jock-itch, for example – but they don’t really drive the plot on. Liotta, however, is particularly strong as a man quite prepared to sacrifice his career to solve this case, even if the resolution might leave you pondering somewhat easier options for his character. Patric has problems of his own, juggling family responsibility and a wife who does not want him to get sucked down again. It all makes for difficult viewing, and comes off as not sufficiently well-baked, yet will keep you watching until the grim end.