a critiQal film review Narc (2002)

  • DVD
  • Vudu

Plot: An undercover cop (Patric), after being summarily discharged after a wrongful shooting, is asked back in to help investigate the murder of a police officer. Since they have nowhere else to go, and the only cop who is intent on finding the killer (Liotta) needs a leash, they want him to be that leash. The further he investigates, the more confused things become, and it starts working on him, his family...until the case becomes everything.

553 words (Est. Reading Time 2m 45s)
  • ...as close as Ray Liota will probably ever get to his Goodfellas/Cop Land heyday.

Ever since Cop Land, Ray Liotta has kind of dropped off the movie scene. He may have been in something since, but nothing I can remember…until Narc.

Having seen Goodfellas years ago, I definitely thought that Ray had some good potential as a mobster. Then he kind of dropped off the planet for awhile, then showed up again in some cheese (something with Melanie Griffith, as I recall, though I could be wrong), then came Cop Land, and I thought he was really going to kickstart his flagging career with that. Then nothing for awhile again, and now Narc.

So, will Narc be another of his good movies, or is it just some extra cheese on his career?

Ray Liotta definitely comes through again in Narc. He picks so many roles that are wrong for him, but in between, he nabs these roles that really allow him to show what he does best. A man on the edge, skirting the fine line of legality, getting things done his way…this is the role he shines in. Goodfellas, Cop Land and Narc all showcase this side of him, and he continues to come through. Why he doesn’t make more of these type of films, who knows? But he should.

Jason Patric, on the other hand, kind of falls back into his Rush character – in fact, Narc could be almost a continuation of his character from that film. In this one, they allude to his past as a narcotics agent who got hooked on drugs and had to go through rehab.

In Rush, he got hooked on drugs (I may be off on this, since I don’t remember how Rush ended)…coincidence, or did Patric get the role because he was in Rush, and the director wanted the viewer’s memory of that film to be evoked? Again, who knows? Either way, it helps, since the viewer already feels like they already know Patric’s character, and definitely helps to create a feeling of companionship for him, just as toward an old friend.

The plot of Narc was a little too basic. Cop gets killed. Partner is the only person who really wants to find out who did it, and will go outside the law to find out. But, of course, everyone starts to suspect that the partner was the one who killed him. An outsider comes in and searches for the truth, and gets so much conflicting information it leads to a conflict between the two. What does he decide to do in the end? Who will he believe? Like I said, a little basic, but Liotta and Patric make it work. They play off each other rather well, and the best scenes of Narc occur when they are both on-screen.

With a simple plot, and only so-so acting on the parts of most everyone, Narc easily could have become just another forgettable movie in the careers of Patric and Liotta. But, with roles they both easily associated with, Liotta and Patric took this film and ran with it. Add to that they are a surprisingly good on-screen pair, and you’ve got a movie worth checking out.

Is it as good as Cop Land or Goodfellas? No, but Narc is probably as close as Ray Liotta will ever get to being that good again.

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