Eye For Film >> Movies >> Pride And Glory (2008) Film Review
Pride And Glory
Reviewed by: Stephen Carty
Postponed since 2001, following the September 11th attacks, as it was deemed inappropriate to question the police's honesty in the wake of the NYPD's heroics, Pride And Glory is a cop corruption tale long in the making. Though probably too dark for many viewers given the lack of anything feel-goodish (Indeed, 'NYPD Bleak' would have been an appropriate title), fans looking for a 'serious' cop flick will find what they're after.
When four cops are found dead at the scene of a supposed drugs bust, New York's men in blue want answers. Despite having hidden himself on low-risk assignments since a bad incident years ago, talented officer Ray Tierney (Edward Norton) is persuaded to join this investigation team by his ex-police chief father (Jon Voight). However, things get complicated when it turns out that cops including his brother Frannie (Noah Emmerich) and brother-in-law Jimmy (Colin Farrell) might have been involved...
In bringing his project to the big screen, director Gavin O'Connor gives us a movie that is smart enough not to merely throw dumb action staples at us. Aside from the slight misstep of a finale, Pride And Glory chooses genuine tension over explosions and is the sort of movie where talky scenes are only interrupted by brief interludes of shocking violence before returning to the salty dialogue. In addition, O'Connor's picture gives us a grubby rendering of New York, has atmosphere on tap and includes a major talking point when Farrell attempts to - ahem - iron out his problems.
However, while it's refreshing to see a movie inspired by Serpico instead of CSI, it's important to note that there isn't much here that we haven't seen before. A few years after Scorsese's much-celebrated The Departed and in a time where The Wire is the hottest show word of mouth can afford, the corrupt cops angle doesn't feel as fresh as it once did. Though definitely competent and certainly better than average, even its biggest fan couldn't argue Pride And Glory is bursting with originality.
Where Pride And Glory does impress is in how the events affect those involved. The best scenes are those in which family members clash about what to do next (often in close quarters) and bark lines at each other while trying to win a 'who is in a worse position' competition. To be honest, I think Norton's goatee has them all beaten hands down.
Furthermore, it also offers an accurate portrayal of policing. Though writing credit is given to O'Connor and screenwriter Joe Carahan (known for gritty yarn Narc and pointless shootathon Smokin' Aces), the director originally wrote the script with his brother and NYPD Police Officer Robert A Hopes in 1999 as a homage to their detective father. While on the surface Pride And Glory seems to have cynicism coming out of every pore and revolves around the world of dirty officers, at its core it's actually a love-letter to honest cops.
Though everyone seems to playing their 'type' (Norton is the troubled talent a la American History X & Red Dragon, Farrell is the cursing loose-cannon a la his life), one area where Pride And Glory excels is the cast. Lifting the screenplay several notches, Norton shows again that he's one of the most consistently impressive actors out there, Farrell gives a volcanic performance complementing his recent good form and Emmerich (one of those guys you recognise but don't quite know by name) seems like he's enjoying going toe-to-toe with the big boys. Also, Voight is as good as he's been in years and almost makes you forget his sneer-fest in Anaconda.
Overall, Gavin O'Connor's Pride And Glory might not offer the most original material on cops and corruption, but it has solid acting and enough to merit a place on an end-of-the-year list of decent police-related thrillers. Not glorious, but something to be proud of.Reviewed on: 17 Nov 2008
If you like this, try:Righteous Kill