Narc


Directed by: Joe Carnahan
Written by:Joe Carnahan
Starring: Ray Liotta, Jason Patric, Chi McBride, Dan Leis, Lloyd Adams
Released: April 14, 2003
Grade: B+

Narc plays out like most crime dramas – we meet our hero, we see the case that looks impossible to solve, then we se him piece it together rather simply.  That’s pretty much how it goes here but at least it doesn’t advertise this fact.  It’s a dark film (rated R for violence) that isn’t flashy and doesn’t overly gloss up the key scenes.  If you’re looking for an unrealistic razzle-dazzle detective film, might I recommend Hollywood Homicide when released next month.

Our broken hero is Detective Nick Tellis (Patric).  He worked undercover for a long period trying to bring down major drug operations.  18 months earlier, he chased a key drug dealer through the streets and yes, he did catch his man but he accidentally shot and killed a small baby in the process.  It was turning point in his life - he left the force and didn’t work at all.  He stayed home with his wife and looked after their own baby boy.

The police pension he receives is barely enough to get by on and when Captain Cheevers (McBride) comes to see Nick with a work opportunity, he decides to return.  His wife is furious and Nick knows the best way to satisfy everyone is to get a simple desk job – no risk and a safe paycheck.  That isn’t why Cheevers has come after Nick.  He promises the desk job but first he has to crack an unsolved case that is causing grief within the force.

Another undercover agent, Michael Calvess, was recently murdered and the leads have gone cold.  Calvess’s partner, Henry Oak (Liotta) was initally withdrawn from the case due to the emotional attachment he had with Calvess.  Nick knows that Henry’s going to be his best chance to get a start on this case and asks he be reinstated.  The pair begin their investigation and find many dead ends.  Some they have created themselves but others have been deliberately put in their path.

It’s a decent mystery and speaking from hindsight, the ending is well supported by what precedes it.  There’s no crazy twist or laughable plot development to spoil the suspense.  It’s interesting without being spectacular.  There isn’t enough story to set it apart from other films like it but conversely, there’s not much wrong either.