Ed Norton’s latest is a brutal dirty cop drama that never really settles into itself and can be a bit all over the place, yet remains entertaining for the most part.
Ray Tierney (Ed Norton) comes from a family of cops, but is kind of the outsider of his family at this point and juncture. His dad, Francis Sr. (Jon Voight), is a big wig in the NYC police system with his son Francis (Noah Emmerich) is Chief of a precinct where, their son/brother in law Jimmy Egan (Colin Farrell) is currently a patrol man. Jimmy might be biting off a bit more than he can chew though, after he becomes under suspicions of Ray who takes over a Task Force that is investigating the death of 4 cops in a drug blood bath.
Ray spends the film tracking down, Angel Tezo, the lone escapee of the drug bust gone bad, and as Ray gets closer he finds out less and less that he wants to hear. Jimmy on the other hand is trying to cover up his tracks and finish the deal that went bad with Tezo under the threat of his partner in the deal, a drug dealer, Casado. The viewer learns of Jimmy’s corruptions from the get go, but how deep things go is slowly uncovered with Ray’s investigation. Meanwhile, the elder father and son, Francis Sr. and Jr., are trying to get a grasp on the situation and protect the police in any way they possibly can.
I will move on from the plot, as I might have shared a tad to much, but there is plenty to still be discovered in this film. The film itself though is a bit of a mess at times. The pacing is a bit off in the early goings, and then hits a great stride, the falters and waivers for the last 45 minutes or so. The 2nd act of this film though is fantastic, with one of the most intense scenes in a film I have seen in a while, it had the whole theater on edge and in shock; great filmmaking. Which is why this film can be a bit frustrating, because Gavin O’Connor clearly shows that he is more than capable of making some quality cop drama, but the film teeters a bit and goes down unnecessary avenues from time to time. But to contradict myself a bit, it doesn’t go into the side stories we want to see, specifically the falling out between Ray and his wife that is scarcely touched on and only eluded too. I want to see what happens with them, much more than the silly and pointless plot device story of a news reporter that pops up in the later part of the film. And while on the latter half, the ending to the film is just way too contrived and a bit absurd. A lot happens by sheer coincidence just to condemn the wicked and vilify the good and it just seems all way to implausible and forced; especially after the film dragged its feet a bit to get there. The film should have focused on the main three “brothers” Ray, Jimmy, and Francis Jr., instead of wavering off into the plot lines of the secondary cops and reporters. The film has a hard time deciding if it wants to be a focused character cop drama, or a big cop epic that encompasses everyone involved lives. In fact the film feels like it went for that and was cut down to what it is.
Now, I have been complaining a bit, but the film is still worth checking out; maybe wait till rental. And there is plenty of good stuff to be found as well, especially in the work by Ed Norton and Colin Farrell. They both do great work as usual, with Farrell really standing out in the scenes that he needs to. Norton carries the film’s plot forward and plays the good cop with an edge very well here, though we shouldn’t expect him not to excel. Jon Voight plays drunk well, but does little else to blow us away. Emmerich can be a bit off at times, especially in the later half of the films, but he plays the helpless mess in the middle of a shitstorm effectively enough.
Also, Gavin O’ Connor’s decision to shoot the majority of the film handheld was a bit jarring as well, and not a good choice in my opinion; and I never complain about the camera. O’Connor does a nice job with the action and brutality of the film as it is very gritty and cringing at times. His biggest fault is setting the bar so high in the fore mentioned intense seen that he leaves us wanting more like that from there on out.
In the end, Pride and Glory is a decent cop drama that brings nothing incredibly new to the genre, but doesn’t really screw it up either. Pacing issues aside, the film is compelling and interesting and you will not forget the now infamous scene I have rambled on about. The two male leads do fine jobs on caliber with all of their other great work and impress as they almost always do. Now, if O’Connor could have found just a bit more direction in his script, pacing and ending, he might have a very solid entry into the cop drama genre.