NARC (2002)

WRITER/DIRECTOR: Joe Carnahan/BUDGET: $7,500,000 (estimated)/GROSS: $10,460,089

If your only familiarity with director Joe Carnahan are the films Smokin’ Aces and The A-Team then I can understand how the mediocrity of those movies might have you less than excited to check out the film he made previous to those (and his second directorial effort), Narc. But it shouldn’t!

Narc is a great film, and one that - when I saw it back in 2002 - had me very excited to follow this new directors career (which, unfortunately hasn’t - at least so far - lived up to the potential shown in said film).

The investigation of the murder of an undercover police officer has stalled and the higher ups - desperate to put the case to bed - pass it along to the cops partner (Ray Liotta) and an undercover narcotics officer (Jason Patric). recently let go from the force after an incident during his last operation.

The film reminded me a little of the movie Training Day in how the main characters are presented - at least initially. Like Ethan Hawkes character in Training Day, Jason Patric appears to be the moral center of Narc. And like Denzel, Liotta is the larger-than-life, do-what-needs-to-be-done cop. However, unlike Training Day, Narc isn't as black and white (no pun intended).

Although Carnahan may present the characters to us that way initially, you can't take them for granted. Because the truth isn't so easy. Using the cinematography, the colors, the characters and a strong script, Carnahan creates a film that lives in the grey.

And one can't talk about this film without mentioning Ray Liotta's performance. He has done some great work, but this is one of, if not his best. He owns the screen. He is a force and a physical presence. Not to dismiss Jason Patric, who is also great and more than holds his own against the power of Liotta's character.