Narc (2002)

(In theaters, January 2003) It’s not a complicated cop story, but it’s told with plenty of style. Sometimes that’s all you need. Jason Patric is suitably understated as the flawed protagonist with plenty to prove, but it’s Ray Liotta who steals the show as a brutal policeman with even more to hide. The opening sequence is a visceral piece of extreme shakycam; the rest of the film is slower, but it builds to a crescendo of emotional exchanges that ought to rivet everyone’s attention. Writer/Director Joe Carnahan is a bit too scattered to be completely effective (his segues in dark humour stand out in a film that otherwise struggles for attention), but he knows how to use a camera. The look is raw, Detroit-winter cold (shot in Toronto), unpleasant and very realistic. Ultimately, this is a simple but compelling cop story, a gritty crime drama of the likes we hadn’t seen in a long while. It’s not for everyone, but fans of the sub-genre will bless the stars for sending a good film their way once in a while.

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