Redemption Street

Narc Starring Jason Patric and Ray Liotta. Directed by Joe Carnahan. Tinseltown. Rated R.
Rated 4.0 As the man said, “Life is brutish, nasty, and short.”

Sacramento-based director Joe Carnahan (Blood, Guts, Bullets and Octane) seems to agree, kicking down with a cop flick that, while at times resembling a particularly brutal episode of NYPD Blue transferred to the big screen, delivers with a gritty procedural drama. The film is a welcome return to those types of morally ambiguous B-movies that were prominent back during the ‘70s.

Nick Tellis (Jason Patric) is a Detroit deep-cover narc booted from the force after a drug bust goes horribly awry, resulting in a couple of bystander deaths. When the force invites him (and his underworld connections) back to team up with Henry Oak (Ray Liotta) to investigate the murder of another narc, Nick is also offered a shot at redemption (of sorts).

Unfortunately, the recently deceased narc also happened to be Oak’s partner … and Oak is one very loose cannon. Adding 30 pounds to his frame for the role, Liotta is pure rolling thunder in pursuit of the “truth.”

Credit goes to Carnahan for suggesting that truth is a matter of perspective, delivering with a refreshingly realistic alternative to the usual neatly resolved, glossy packages that pass as cop flicks these days.