Pride & Glory Directed by: Gavin O’Connor Cast: Colin Farrell, Edward Norton, Jon Voight, Noah Emmerich Time: 2 hrs 5 mins Rating: R
Plot: The Tierney family has been a part of the New York Police Department for two generations and their pride is thicker than the blood that binds them. When Ray (Edward Norton) uncovers a controversial case involving the corruption of the men in blue, the bond that has tied his family together begins to unravel in more ways than one.
Who’s It For?. Fans of shoot-em-ups with a backbone. Edward Norton doesn’t take roles that he could just phone in. You may want to tune in if you don't mind being left in the dark without having your questions overshadow the thrilling good guy v. bad guy story.
Expectations: On paper, this film has got everything: an exceptional cast, a riveting story, and a gifted filmmaker. With a line up this impressive, it’s difficult to see how it could miss as a critical success. Though there were rumors as to why it wasn’t released in March as originally planned, this is the quintessential buzz film.
Edward Norton as Ray Tierney: Norton has a reputation for being difficult on the set and it’s easy to see why that may be. He’s as intensely involved in his character as any of his contemporaries, and his chops are constantly evident throughout. My only thought is that he may have out-acted an underwritten role. We are supposed to believe that the scars from his past (one made evident by a facial scar) haunt him more than words can say. He rarely talks about these events, and it strips us of the necessary compassion we’d need to get on board with Ray.
Colin Farrell as Jimmy Egan: He can mug as well as any of the machismo-infused leading men you can think of. Egan is a bastard of a dude whose defiance of the law he’s paid to enforce often makes you hate him more with every passing frame. His only silver lining is in the allegiance he claims to have for his family. But it’s the way in which Farrell depicts the cold-hearted Jimmy that convinces you to never believe him.
Jon Voight as Francis Tierney, Sr: The aging Oscar winner always finds new ways to present us with fresh, idiosyncratic performances. He plays a veteran Police father whose pride in the badge has diminished, but his love for his family clearly hasn’t. His tendency to have one too many cocktails can be lent to the strain of being a lifelong officer of a law he sees coming apart right before his eyes. This time, it’s from his own flesh and blood.
Noah Emmerich as Francis Tierney, Jr: While predominately making a living as a character actor in bit parts, Emmerich finally gets the chance to prove he can run with Hollywood’s elite. What’s interesting about his performance is the story calls for him to be the gut of the corruption around which the film focuses. Though he does offer up a few smoldering scenes, we’re largely left wondering how the whole mess is really affecting him. It doesn’t appear like he’s losing any sleep, while he most definitely should be. Is he truly loyal to his family, or would he have let it slide had his little brother not been so insistent for him to fess up?
Talking: Most of what’s said in this film covers something up. What should have been said is masked with verbal deceit, and a self-serving purpose. The best interactions occur between Voight and his Tierney sons. Though he’s often intoxicated when these take place, each conversation sheds new light on how important it is to the father figure to keep everything as muddle-free as possible. Though the booze has amplified his reason, it takes little from his insistence that cop families stick to the code above all else.
Sights & Sounds: The first scene is an inter-squad football game that captures the sport as well as any football film has. The rest of the movie is shot under a drab-gray-hue that only fuels the solemn mood oozing unrelentingly through each scene. This is a film that paints a picture of the tough parts of NYC well, but no different from any thing else you’ve seen in the past.
Best Scene: When Egan’s two worlds finally collide, the sharp dichotomy of his two sides is finally exposed. Farrell impressively showcases this in a brief scene where a gang-member (played by the always memorable Rick Gonzalez) visits his home to threaten his way of life unless he adheres to the demands of his corrupt “connections.” It’s been difficult to believe the Irish actor in anything but a bar fight until you see him here. A man torn between the life in which he’s loved unconditionally, and the life in which he would take a life for money without question, or hesitation.
Ending: A Cop-out. Pun intended. It’s just too easy to figure out what’s going to happen almost as quickly as Norton starts putting the pieces together in the early phases of the film. We realize the pull he has in his family, and his older brother (who’s dying wife insists he fesses up) doesn’t have to gall to deceive him any further. This is the kind of movie where you leave happy you gave it a shot, but disappointed that you trusted it would throw you a sharper curve in its waning moments.
Questions: (Putting your statements in a question form will make this section more engaging) The back-stories are never fully developed. As mentioned before, Norton’s scar, Farrell’s ever darting eyes, Emmerich’s empty gaze, and even Voight’s desperate looks of despair have no collective explanation. This is a story that had the potential to be on par with The Departed. What we are offered instead borders on a lesser Hill Street Blues episode in which we’ve required to care about characters we never truly got to know in the first place.
Rewatchability: Don’t bother. There are no hidden questions, or high-incentive bluffing from the director. If you missed anything in the first viewing, it was your chance to leave early having already figured out its calculated conclusion.
OVERALL Martin Scorsese needs to teach a class on how to formulate unpredictable ways to deliver a story that’s been told many times before. For some reason, we live in a country obsessed with tales of corrupt cops, and high-rolling bad guys. This is a movie that tries to fuse both sides with little success. If Pride & Glory proves anything, it tells us no matter how loaded your line up is, there’s no guaranteed victory. Gavin O’Connor tries too hard to keep us invested, but never gives us the proper incentive to remain as such. If I’ve learned anything in my twenty-some years of film appreciation, it's that every genre has been liquidated with efforts that fall short. This is what makes a brilliant film an Oscar winner, and lesser attempts forgettable Blockbuster rentals. Cop-films seem to multiply like rabbits, and this flick doesn’t hop too far from the typical pitfalls of a tired genre.
Final Score: 5/10