Reel Toronto: Narc
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Reel Toronto: Narc

Toronto’s extensive work on the silver screen reveals that, while we have the chameleonic ability to look like anywhere from New York City to Moscow, the disguise doesn’t always hold up to scrutiny. Reel Toronto revels in digging up and displaying the films that attempt to mask, hide, or—in rare cases—proudly display our city.

Hey, now! This Narc is a pretty cool movie. It has some stereotypical good cop/dirty cop stuff, but it’s also got a lot of style and Ray Liotta kicking ass, looking big as a bear and twice as scary. Director Joe Carnahan hasn’t done much since (he almost made MI: 3 and Smokin’ Aces was just disappointing), but last week he got named the twentieth director attached to The A Team, so that must count for something.
Narc takes place in Detroit, the poster child for urban decay, and yet they filmed it right here. How did they do it?

Ground zero for the Detroit scenes is pre-gentrification Liberty Village. Here, for example, Jason Patric is walking along Liberty Street, and you can see the lights of Lamport Stadium in the background.
Other locations used in the area include 43 Hannah (now the Toy Factory Lofts), and they also shot around the corner on Fraser Avenue.
It’s hard to miss the dynamic opening chase scene, which takes place all over Regent Park.
After the big chase scene, Patric gets debriefed, and the curly staircase is your cue that this was shot at City Hall, below the rotunda.
Patric gets paired up with Liotta, to see if he’s dirty ‘n’ stuff, and the two suss each other out sitting at an old-school hamburger joint. It was shot at Arnold’s Drive-In, out on Lakeshore West.
An interrogation montage was shot around the Junction Gardens area, as well as at Dunn Convenience Store and, as you can see above, under the DVP.
It could be our imagination, since it’s way out of focus, but we think they’re driving on Yonge Street here, since that marquee looks an awful lot like the Elgin and Winter Garden sign.
The film ventures uptown a bit, and this happy, suburban street appears to be Walmer Road, near the Casa Loma stables.
Other interiors — but we can’t be certain which ones —  were shot at the Waverly Hotel and way up in North York on Heathcote Avenue.
This one took us a bit of work, but the final confrontation between the main characters takes place on an abandoned industrial street. It was shot here, at the corner of Defries and Labatt, near the DVP and Dundas.
The building behind Liotta here can be seen at the east end of Labatt on the map.
If nothing else, Narc is an exercise in showing how surprisingly easy it is to make Toronto look like one of the most beat-up cities in the U.S., and it’s certainly better than the average Hollywood flick lensed here.