Narc Joe Carnahan

Narc Joe Carnahan
With incredible performances from Ray Liotta and Jason Patric, striking camera work and a taut story, Narc is an exceptional movie that doesn't possess the total package qualities of a "debut" like Reservoir Dogs (although Narc is "technically" Carnahan's second movie) but is a grittier and more pragmatic effort. The fact that Narc even got made is a major success (it faced serious financial troubles), let alone achieved the critical success that it has, finding champions in Tom Cruise and William Friedkin, while catapulting Carnahan into the director's chair for Mission Impossible 3. But Narc's strength isn't that it's a gritty cop movie, but that's it's a gritty and incredibly artistic gritty cop movie that while utilising typical stereotypes (Patric's burnt out undercover officer seeking redemption and Liotta's overbearing, by any means necessary "bad cop") explores its main characters in ways most cop movies never bother. Kicked off the Detroit police force after accidentally tagging a pregnant woman during a bust (in the movie's powerful, propulsive opening), Nick Tellis (Patric) is teamed with Henry Oak (Liotta) to solve the mysterious murder of Oak's friend and undercover officer Michael Calvess. But while Tellis is intent on solving the case to cleanse himself, at the expense of his family, Oak is intent on revenge, even as it gradually emerges that Oak knows more than he's let on. Patric and Liotta both excel in their roles, with Liotta undergoing a physical transformation to play the intimidating Oak, and Patric giving a nuanced, powerful performance. But it's the little details that make Narc so good, especially in Carnahan's "arty" shots and scenes. And while the movie's ending is its soft spot, Narc is indicative of things to come from Carnahan. Extras are both funny (the commentary) and interesting (the featurettes), despite Carnahan's claim that the commentary is for the five film school students watching, exposing the trials and tribulations of the little cop film that did. Extras: commentary by writer/director Joe Carnahan and editor John Gilroy; featurettes; theatrical trailer. (Lions Gate/Paramount)