Thursday, March 17, 2011
I won't go into a synopsis as this isn't the style of my reviews, suffice to say it isn't really anything new. You know, undercover cop gets shot and killed, no leads, no suspects, cop under a cloud gets the dirty job of solving it with a renegade cop.
The story line may be familiar but what sets this cop movie apart from the rest is the performances and the pacing. This isn't a fast moving movie. It isn't all shoot 'em up, bang bang you're dead, car chase, shot 'em up again, go home stuff. It moves slowly and builds the two cop's (Liotta and Patric ) characters, and goes deep into their home lives and the problems associated outside of work due to the nature of their jobs. But for its pacing it is never boring. At the end I was surprised that one and a half hours had slipped by. It isn't long but gives a feeling of having been so. It is perfectly paced as these two cops battle their own demons and the crims and scum they have to deal with day in day out. Against the desolaton of Detroit it casts a palpable pall of gloom over the viewer.
The people these two meet are unbelievable. The guy with clap is so pitiful in his ravings at her ' putrid pussy' and yet turns around and yells at her 'I love you'. A corpse is found in a bath tub with its head blown off. It turns out the guy had been smoking weed and used a loaded shotgun as a pipe!! And so on and so forth. The performances of both Patric and Liotta must be praised as they play two cops who have to deal with this type of shit day in and day out. They are superb as two characters who we see being ground down emotionally by what they see each day.
This for me sets this apart from so many cop movies. It is character based and shows the impact on the cops, their minds, their well being, and home lives. I haven't seen anything else that has gone so deep into this territory. I'm not overly fond of Jason Patric as I've always found him a somewhat syrupy actor. In Narc he pulls out a stella performance. He is so believable as a cop who is beginning to feel the weight of his job on his back. I was impressed at the way he walked, you could see this was a man who was geting tired of the things he was seeing. Body language can make or break a role and Patric here does it extremely well. I could easily buy into his character.
Ray Liotta was born for this type of role. He has had an up and down career and I feel this must almost be his best role yet. He is menacing, angry, disillusioned, and looks like a man on the edge about to crack, if he has not already. My only gripe with him, and this movie, was by the end I was a bit sick of Liotta's yelling. Sure it was his role but I felt like I had been hit over the head with a sledgehammer by the end. A minor matter really beacuse it was the what the role demanded.
The contrast between the two men is marked and at the core of the film. As stated it isn't a shoot 'em up cop movie, but a study of character and what makes men like this tick within a shitty job and environment. At first we sympathise with Patrick and are repelled by Liotta, but by the end we find they really are no different in outlook. Patrick holds everything in whilst Liotta lets it all out with shouting, kicking, punching, and the like. They are both good at their jobs and again go about it in different ways but in wanting the same result. Patrick is quiet and calculating whilst Liotta is loud and threatening. In the end Liotta's methods get the better of Patrick and they fall out.
The end of the movie is a cracker. It isn't so much a twist ending but it isn't what you expect. We finally get the truth and also see that for all Liotta's menace and anger he really is a caring guy who has seen too much and been emotionally brutalised by it. He sees an opportuntity to do some right against the rules. It ends with him dying and us not ever knowing what Patrick will do with the truth. It is a poignant moment as it all dawns on him what Liotta's motives were even if they were somewhat reprehensible.
A extremely good cop movie that I highly recommend. It isn't your run of the mill cops and robbers movie. This is gritty, nasty, stark, filthy, realistic stuff and a great portrayal of police work in the US. All I can say is this...who would want to be a cop if this is what it is like.
Click here for asynopsis:
PS. One thing to watch out for in Narc is the overall quality of it detail wise. For example watch the final scenes. Notice the black guy with he bald head. Notice the steam rising from it as he has just been chased and caught by Liotta. Remember the movie was made during the cold months of Northern America so there is also the breath of the actors indoors that can be seen too. ( No heating provided for these actors! ). It is a good bit of detailing that the film maker could easily have discarded but for me adds realism and credibility.