FILM REVIEW – Pride and Glory

For a while, Pride and Glory plays like the fiercest episode of Law & Order ever writ large and dashed luridly across the big screen. The beat-treading camerawork, the attention to dot-plotting police procedure, the bleak ambience of New York’s niveous, crime-sodden streets – all are impressively exploited by helmer Gavin O’Connor in this corrupt cop thriller’s tautly carved opening hour.
FILM REVIEW – Pride and Glory
For a while, Pride and Glory plays like the fiercest episode of Law & Order ever writ large and dashed luridly across the big screen. The beat-treading camerawork, the attention to dot-plotting police procedure, the bleak ambience of New York’s niveous, crime-sodden streets – all are impressively exploited by helmer Gavin O’Connor in this corrupt cop thriller’s tautly carved opening hour. Covering an equally similar aesthetic jurisdiction to TV’s superior The Wire, Pride and Glory roars into grim, gut-thumping action when a bungled drug bust leaves four of Manhattan’s finest brutally slain. Edward Norton stars as detective Ray Tierney, coaxed from a water-treading post in Missing Persons by his chief of detectives father (Jon Voigt) to join the task force assigned to investigating the circumstances surrounding the grisly killings. Complicating matters is that Ray’s older brother, Francis (Noah Emmerich), heads the unit mixed up in the case, and the boys’ brother-in-law, Jimmy (Colin Farrell), an officer under Francis’ command, is of late following an increasingly flimsy moral compass. So far, so Departed, then, with its rat-in-the-ranks narrative funnelling and multi-generational extended family of Irish-American flatfoots, but O’Connor never strives for the combustible shimmer of that slick Scorsese crime ballet, keeping things coarsely convincing with his prowling lens and curt, unpolished conversational exchanges. Norton and Farrell are on familiar ground, a fact which ultimately contributes to the film’s disposable feel, though are no less impressive in their rough-edged roles, despite a script by O’Connor and Narc’s Joe Carnahan that betrays the tough realism of its steely beginnings; Farrell’s Jimmy, in particular, becomes nothing more than a broadly-sketched scumbag of relentlessly flaring machismo – the first casualty of the picture’s latter-half laziness. Pride and Glory slides into melodrama with the introduction of a reporter (Maximiliano Hernández) who’s conveniently positioned to spark its protracted third act, momentarily opening things up beyond the principal family unit in a listless attempt to sew up its numerous threads. It’s slipshod screenwriting, not least for its brief introduction of several go-nowhere story strands which, at kindest, may be referred to as plot devices designed solely to carry us to the fraternal fisticuffs of the film’s foolish, faux-hardboiled finale. So when push comes to punch in an Irish pub (with a jig on the jukebox, no less), Pride and Glory has forfeited all of its cuff-grabbing immediacy for a baffling bat at the vicious gloss of Mann-lite hyper-heightened reality – a frustrating finish to an initially solid affair that blusters its way off the case. DIRECTOR: Gavin O’Connor SCREENWRITERS: Joe Carnahan & Gavin O’Connor CAST: Edward Norton, Colin Farrell, Jon Voigt, Noah Emmerich, Jennifer Ehle RATING: MA15+ RUN TIME: 130 minutes

Gerard Elson

Monday 9 February, 2009

About the author

Gerard Elson is a Melbourne-based writer. He occasionally blogs at http://celluloidtongue.wordpress.com.