Pride and Glory

October, 2008, Thriller

Directed by:Gavin O'Connor

Starring:Edward Norton, Colin Farrell, Jon Voight, and Noah Emmerich

Despite the advances provided by modern science, many unexplained mysteries still nag at our collective consciousness; for example, what was Aimee Semple McPherson really up to during the 36 days she went missing in the late spring of 1926? Are mathematicians ever going to supply an adequate response to the Riemann hypothesis? How does Ireland’s Colin Farrell, (Alexander, Ask The Dust) continue to get cast in leading movie roles? 

In this thoroughly conventional police thriller, (released more than a year and a half after it was completed) Farrell plays Jimmy Egan, an Irish cop in New York City’s police department whose two brothers-in-law (Edward Norton as Ray Tierney and Noah Emmerich as Francis Tierney) serve with him in the same precinct under the direction of Tierney pere, (Jon Voight). When a drug bust goes violently wrong and four fellow officers are killed, Ray is asked by his father to find the man suspected of being the shooter. His efforts uncover a trail of official corruption so violent and mindless it could only exist in a screenplay which asks audiences to assume the police don’t have rules about nepotism which prevent a father from supervising members of his immediate family. Be that as it may, Ray soon discovers degrees of rottenness in the family barrel which lead to lots of coercion, torture and further murders before a combination bar-room brawl and urban riot expose various members of New York’s finest as craven, lethal thugs. (The film’s credits include members of the NYPD as technical consultants; given the dreadful image of the police provided by this movie, their participation is as inexplicable as plot’s rationale.) 

Give director/co-screenwriter Gavin O’Connor his due however; there’s enough honest grit here to make Pride & Glory fitfully entertaining; the dialogue offers some telling examples of blue-collar family life while the film’s cinematography displays the drug dens and back-alley shooting galleries of The Big Apple in all their appalling viciousness. The camera’s claustrophobic proximity to the characters suggests the options available to these lives are so limited that violence is inevitable. 

Given his Dublin heritage, Farrell manages a passable faint brogue for the compulsive Jimmy, but provides no explaination for his venal rage while Norton’s dignified composure, solicitude for the oppressed and respect for family nearly qualify him for beatification. Norton’s career began with such promise but a role like this one doesn’t display his capacity for virile sensitivity - - it just makes him appear sanctimonous. 

There are enough sub-plots and supporting characters here to provide fodder for an entire television series and perhaps O’Conner and co-screenwriter Joe Carnahan should have considered that medium; with its appealing depiction of the brotherhood of the men in blue and their varied personal/family lives, Pride and Glory begs for more exposition and less bloodshed - - which might well have made for a better movie but much less box-office than this bruising exercise in mayhem will probably garner.

The verdict? Sporadic vitality slathered in disturbing violence.

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