- Rated R
- Buy the Blu-ray
All photos © New Line Cinema
Reviewed by Jason Zingale
t’s never good news when a movie studio has so little confidence in your film that it goes through two years’ worth of release date changes before finally being unloaded into theaters. For Gavin O’Connor’s “Pride and Glory,” however, it’s exactly what the movie deserved. It's not quite "Street Kings" bad, but it's loaded with so many tired clichés that you might as well be watching any old police thriller. Not even Edward Norton – who elevates the quality of the picture every time he’s onscreen – can save it from mediocrity, because when all is said and done, "Pride and Glory" is just another dirty cop movie with a lame ending.
Norton stars as Ray Tierney, a once promising New York police officer who’s condemned himself to a desk job following his decision to lie to a grand jury in order to protect some fellow cops. His police chief father (Jon Voight) has been trying to get him back on the streets ever since, and after four officers are killed during a drug raid gone wrong, he suggests that Ray head up the task force investigating the case. The murdered officers in question are part of Ray’s brother-in-law, Jimmy Egan’s (Colin Farrell), unit – a group of crooked cops who have been working as mercenaries for the local drug lords. Jimmy and his crew are hoping to silence the only man who can connect them to the murders before anyone else tracks him down, but when Ray catches on to their involvement, he must decide what’s more important: protecting family or serving justice.
At first sight, “Pride and Glory” probably looks a lot like last year’s “We Own the Night,” and in some respects, it is. Though the stories are quite different in tone, it’s hard to ignore the fact that both movies are centered on a family of cops, or that while James Gray’s film actually does take place in the 1980s, “Pride and Glory” only feels like it does. Perhaps the biggest similarity, however, is that in a movie that should be jam-packed with action and suspense, O’Connor’s police drama is just as uneventful as Gray’s. My plot summary may seem like it gives away more than it should, but in reality, you find out about Jimmy being a dirty cop way before the end of the first act. As such, there’s not a whole lot left to the movie but waiting for Ray to make up his mind about how he’s going to handle the situation. That it takes him 90 minutes to do so doesn’t make for the most engaging material.
What really makes the two films stand apart, then, are the performances. Norton is as solid as he’s ever been, but he’s also in a world of his own – constantly upstaging anyone that dares walk into the same frame. Granted, it’s nice to see Noah Emmerich play a nice guy for a change, and Jon Voight has a few great scenes involving scotch, but Colin Farrell just can’t hold his own opposite Norton, and it makes what should have been a classic good-versus-evil scenario feel unbalanced. It’s not like Farrell didn’t already have the cards stacked in his favor, either. His character appears to be the better developed of the two on paper (along with a more dynamic family life, he gets to do villainous things like torture suspects and threaten to burn babies with irons), but Farrell never makes the most of it.
Maybe he should have consulted Michael Chiklis for advice, because when it comes to crooked cops, there’s no one better than Vic Mackey on “The Shield.” Which begs to ask the question, if you can watch one of the best dirty cop dramas for free on television, why bother paying for a second-rate version at the movies?
Special Edition Blu-Ray Review:
It isn’t all that rare these days for a studio to release a movie on DVD with little or no special features, but many Blu-ray owners feel that they should at least be rewarded with something other than enhanced video and sound for spending the extra cash on the HD edition. Unfortunately, Warner Bros. doesn’t feel the same way, but while there may only be one special feature to speak of on the single-disc release of "Pride and Glory," it’s better than the movie itself. Running just over an hour long, “Source of Pride” takes the traditional making-of featurette to a whole another level with a documentary that showcases the struggle director Gavin O’Connor went through in order to get his film made. From holding unconventional rehearsals and casting bit roles days before they’re ready to shoot, the pre-production portion is so stressful that when filming begins, things really go to hell.
The script is in a constant state of flux, Nick Nolte must be recast at the last possible second with Jon Voight, and yes, Edward Norton is extremely difficult to work with. Apparently, all those stories about Norton being a pain in the ass were true – though O’Connor downplays the situation considerably by noting that his star actor is just really dedicated to the job. Meanwhile, an ending to the movie still hasn’t been written, and in fact isn’t written until the night before they’re scheduled to film the scene. Anyone that thinks making movies is easy, or wonders why “Pride & Glory” turned out so bad, needs to watch this documentary as soon as possible. It would have been nice to have some additional material to go along with it, but considering all of the trouble that the studio was put through during the making of the film, it isn’t at all surprising that they weren’t willing to front the cash to do so.