Exploding off the blocks with a sustained gasp of heart-stopping aggression, Narc headlocks you with a raw immediacy that's impossible to ignore.

Months after seeing his career sunk by indefinite suspension, narcotics cop Nick Tellis (Jason Patric) is handed a way back: buddy-up with bully-boy plod Henry Oak (Ray Liotta) and dredge Detroit's gutter-life to solve the killing of a fellow undercover officer. But as Tellis sinks further into the case, the warm centre of his family starts shrinking into the distance. What's more, Oak's smash-face detective work could be smoke-screening something rotten...

Like a 'tec tag-team consisting of Frank Serpico and Popeye Doyle, Patric and Liotta form the tortured core of writer/director Joe Carnahan's thriller, a conscious throwback to a time when cops lived with the grit of the street in their veins. Patric comes up with his best work to date, his quietly anguished cop refusing to compete with Liotta's wolfish powerhouse. But the real star here is Carnahan, soaking up the drama on a shivery, blue-rinsed visual canvas that matches giddy, hand-held kinetics with the menacing serenity of his compositions.

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