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Pride and Glory (2008)

Truth. Honor. Loyalty. Family. What are you willing to sacrifice?

Directed by:

Gavin O'Connor

Rating: 6/10

Running Time: 130 minutes

US Certificate: R UK Certificate: 15

On DVD

Pride and Glory asks a lot. It’s a decent cops and crimes drama, and once you figure out who’s on what side and who works with and for whom, it’s an intense, well-acted movie that, while nothing really new, offers some memorable moments. The problem is in the getting there, which takes about an hour, and even with a good second hour, it’s asking a lot to wade through all that dirty cop water that seems to be going nowhere for half the film.

First there’s this shoot-out in Washington Heights, and four policemen end up dead in a drug bust gone wrong. Police Chief Francis Tierney, Sr. (Jon Voight) recruits his son, disillusioned cop Ray (Edward Norton), to return to the force and lead the investigation. In the course of the investigation, Ray is forced to question his loyalties when he gets an inkling that there might be some bad cops afoot—and that they might be guys from his brother’s (Noah Emmerich) precinct—and that his brother-in-law Jimmy (Colin Farrell) might be the worst offender.

There’s a scene with Farrell, and I’ll just say it involves an iron. That scene, more than just about anything I’ve watched as of late, got to me—and I’m a pretty tough movie watcher. This scene takes place midway through and is designed to show us just how far Jimmy has gone down the rabbit hole of corruption. It’s a terrific scene. I almost never got there, because I was almost convinced by that point that all I was watching was a by the numbers “good cop/bad cop” fable that overused the f-word to an almost laughable extent. But I slogged through the messy subplots and the monotonous expository bits, and eventually, there was a solid crime drama. Pacing is the problem—all the actors, from leads to small parts, put in great work, especially Voight (though I’m not totally convinced that he wasn’t actually drunk at the dinner table scene, either way he pulled it off). Norton’s good, too, and believable as the cop conscience of the force, and Emmerich stands out as the stoic older brother sitting on the fence (in his best scene, he is confronted by a dirty member of his force who, as explanation, tells him, “I thought you knew!” From then on, he wears his lack of knowledge with shame, and we see it on his conflicted face). So there it is, a whole bunch of talented actors, some outstanding, gritty scenes full of action and suspense, but such a slow build up that some people may never get there. Have patience—it’s worth it.

It's Got: Jon Voight, intensity, a really good last hour.

It Needs: A much better first hour, Farrell to get a bit more of a grip on his accent.

DVD Extras One Featurette: “Source of Pride: The Making of Pride and Glory” (68-minute documentary) DVD Extras Rating: 5/10

Alternatives:

Mean Streets, The Departed, We Own the Night

Summary

If you can get through the lackluster first hour of this cop family gone wrong saga, you’ll be rewarded with a well-acted, suspenseful crime thriller.