2002 Certificate: 18


Still haunted by a botched undercover job, narcotics cop Jason Patric is assigned to find out who killed the partner of rogue officer Ray Liotta. With well-drawn characters and an unpredictable yet focused plot, Narc is a brutal and compelling cop thriller that puts others on desk duty.


  • Joe Carnahan


  • Ray Liotta

  • Busta Rhymes

  • Chi McBride

  • Jason Patric


Judging from the recent slew of Hollywood cop movies it wouldn't be prudent to approach an American policeman for the time.

It seems they are preoccupied with hunting down their partner's killers, chucking in the badge and seeking justice maverick-style or starting small wars in the run-down ghettoes.

Henry Oak (Liotta) certainly isn't the obliging plod to ask if you want directions to Madame Tussauds - he's grimly determined to avenge the death of his buddy.

Liotta, sporting a beard which gives him the look of Matthew Kelly on steroids, trawls Detroit's lowlife seeking clues to the rub-out.

But it's only when he's joined by undercover narcotics officer Nick Tellis (Patric) that he begins to make real progress towards the guilty men.

While Oak is a "solid collar but unstable" cop, devoted first-time dad Tellis is still carrying the guilt for the shooting of a pregnant mother during a botched bust.

We join the pair as they raid festering crack dens, roll drugged-up witnesses and scrabble for leads in freezing city streets and derelict tenements.

Shot in colour-drained tones and employing juddering steady-cam shots for action scenes, the gritty reality of their grim urban hunting ground is stunningly evoked.

Together with the familiar police procedural side of the plot we also get fully-formed snapshots of Tellis' homelife, lending the whole show a grainy authenticity.

The plot's no disappointment either, with the seemingly straightforward tracking down of the felons giving way to something far more complex and morally ambiguous.

Tom Cruise deserves credit for raising the cash and director Carnahan must be congratulated for recreating the spirit of movies like Serpico and The French Connection.

See it twice - one fix won't be enough.

Tim Evans