Generally favorable reviews - based on 34 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 30 out of 34
  2. Negative: 2 out of 34
  1. 90
    Carnahan alternates gritty neo-realism with bursts of extreme stylization -- most notably in a breathless opening chase filmed with handheld cameras -- but thankfully, his stylistic flourishes are in the service of the film's story, not the other way around.
  2. 90
    A blood-soaked, hellish experience -- a midnight special for lovers of a violent genre -- yet it has been made with a mixture of ferocity and sweetness which leaves one exhausted but at peace. [27 January 2003, p. 94]
  3. 89
    Fresh and raw like a blown-out vein, Narc takes a walking-dead, cop-flick subgenre and beats new life into it.
  4. Narc is as cop movie as a cop movie can be.
  5. Reviewed by: David Rooney
    A darkly textured, powerfully suspenseful genre piece.
  6. 80
    Narc is convincing, an entertaining, grimy view of the traps of machismo tucked inside a cop thriller.
  7. 80
    Taut and well-acted, faltering only when the filmmaker loses faith in the power of his story.
  8. 80
    It joins “Rush,” “The Onion Field,” “Serpico,” “Seven,” “The French Connection,” Traffic, and “Prince of the City” as a grimy, hyper-real exploration of the emotional and psychological prices paid by cops.
  9. 80
    As a director Carnahan definitely has the goods: the opening foot chase, a sequence that's been done to death, is genuinely terrifying.
  10. Reviewed by: Ron Wells
    Patric and Liotta are as tense and great as they've ever been.
  11. Reviewed by: Mike Clark
    This may be the most uncompromisingly raw police drama since "Across 110th Street," starring Anthony Quinn and Yaphet Kotto.
  12. 75
    With such skilled filmmaking and committed acting on display, Narc is far more a score than a bust.
  13. 75
    A no-bull throwback to 1970s action films. It zips along with B-movie verve while adding the rich details and go-for-broke acting that heralds something special.
  14. 75
    Without a hint of regret, the filmmaker freely borrows from such diverse sources as Martin Scorsese, Quentin Tarantino, Oliver Stone, and the TV program "C.S.I."
  15. 75
    The investigation itself must remain undescribed here. But its ending is a neat and ironic exercise in poetic justice.
  16. 75
    An unusually vicious and unforgiving study of police corruption, Narc is a stylistic throwback to such classic 1970s cop dramas as "The French Connection" and "Serpico," with a 21st century helping of the old ultra-violence.
  17. 75
    Makes "Training Day" -- which was admittedly pretty tough -- seem like a Disney cartoon by comparison.
  18. What could have been a run-of-the- mill story becomes a superb policier in the hands of writerdirector Joe Carnahan.
  19. It's a cop movie that refuses to cop out in the usual way.
  20. Patric and Liotta get the chance to do some heavy riffing on themes of honor, sacrifice, selling out and self-destructing, and the bleak, smeared world of drugs and violence is brought to the fore with feverish style.
  21. Hardly a scene goes by without a digitally fractured flashback or spasm of editing punctuation, rupturing the movie's otherwise carefully wrought sense of authenticity.
  22. Reviewed by: Jeff Stark
    The direction of Joe Carnahan, who also wrote the script, is stylish without being overbearing, the actors look comfortable in their roles and the modest twists unfold at a pace that doesn't seem ridiculous. The film would probably make a good episode of "Homicide: Life on the Streets."
  23. It's a stunner that sadly grows tiresome at the end.
  24. This is a stirring movie, if relentless intensity, handheld camera work, cover-your-eyes violence and ear-splitting yelling matches are what you're craving.
  25. 70
    Familiar story, electrifying execution.
  26. As the most diabolically focused and politically incorrect cop this side of Popeye Doyle, Liotta is a hot prospect for this year's supporting-actor Oscar.
  27. 67
    Beneath its frantic surfaces, Narc is terribly ordinary, built on a mystery that will puzzle only those who have never watched a TV cop drama.
  28. Some might find the whole thing exhilarating, but exhausting is more the word that comes to this man's mind.
  29. 63
    Frustratingly, Carnahan barely trusts his storytelling to keep our attention long enough to get through a scene without some grisly cutaway -- a gun to the head, the writhing wounded.
  30. Ray Liotta and Jason Patric do some of their best work in their underwritten roles, but don't be fooled: Nobody deserves any prizes here.
  31. Authenticity and plausibility get gunned down from the get-go, but if explosive shaky-cam ultraviolence and frequent extreme close-ups of greasy whiskers are your bag, this hyperactive wannabe may count as something of a score.
  32. To transcend cliché, movies like Narc need the passion of a heretic who can take stock characters with their stock predicaments and turn them inside out, the way Curtis Hanson and Quentin Tarantino do. Blood, guts and flash aren't enough.
  33. The movie is designed to show off Liotta's acting skills, but pointless mayhem and sheer nastiness crowd out any virtues it might have had.
  34. Liotta's acting can't redeem senseless violence.
User Score

Universal acclaim- based on 32 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 8 out of 9
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 9
  3. Negative: 1 out of 9
  1. Jul 2, 2012
    This review contains spoilers, click full review link to view. Narc outdid my every expectation - after reading the summary, I was in no way anticipating such a hugely original and deeply emotional thriller. It's dark, stylish and endlessly gritty. The acting is spot-on, and it's Ray Liotta's performance that really shone through, but every element is crafted with a huge amount of creative thought and technical expertise. This is a phenomenal debut from writer/director Joe Canahan and though his successive films haven't lived up to the sheer brilliance that is Narc, it just goes to show what a hugely effective film it is incredible too. The twists are mindblowing, as repeated flashbacks from different perspectives offer conflicting recounts of the murder. Liotta's character being "revealed" as the murderer would have been a great ending in itself, but to turn it back and finally see the truth blew me away. The cinematography is stylized and very much reflective of the anxious narrative, and really added a subtle realism to the film. To summarize, Narc is possibly the most refreshing and effective crime thriller I've seen since Silence of the Lambs and one I'll gladly revisit. Full Review »
  2. JBridge
    Feb 9, 2006
    I don't understand what this deal is with people vomiting over the violence in this movie. The violence is in this movie to add reality. I don't understand what this deal is with people vomiting over the violence in this movie. The violence is in this movie to add reality. It was by no means over the top. At all. The movie was very well acted and the plot kept me very interested. What I loved most was that I had Liotta pegged for the murder from the beginning, and I was so surprised at the end. The revelation was actually a REVELATION. Full Review »