Review: Pride and Glory (2008)

Director Gavin O’Connor preceded the fantastic ‘Warrior’ with this gritty multi-generational cop family drama not just about ‘Pride and Glory’ but loyalty and honour too, lofty themes that are always at the heart of O’Connor’s stories.

Edward Norton is Ray Tierney, recruited by Dad Francis Snr. (Jon Voight)  from a self-imposed hiatus to lead an investigation into the shootings of four of NYPD’s finest. As a gifted “problem solver” Ray probes to uncover a deeper revelatory secret of cop corruption involving brother in-law Jimmy (Colin Farrell).

A tale of family loyalty tested to the limit, not only for the Tierney’s, but with wider effects for the whole NYPD clan, whose political and community standing of upholding honour and justice are threatened by the damaging revelations of “their own” blues trading with dealers and murderers.

O’Connor Superbly directs and tells the story (screenwriting here too) of the wider political scene of the big apple and the importance of the department, but hones in more intimately on the intricacies and dynamics of a devoted family, pulled by power and control, and fear of losing what they have gained by back-burning the misdemeanours of the larger NYPD family.

Francis Snr exemplifies this often naïve, narrow view of institutionalised control and representation of moral code, never guilty of taking back handers, honourable, but overlooking the little white lies of corruption that damages the department in the public’s eye; pitifully not so for eldest son Francis Jnr. (Noah Emmerich) oblivious to the level of corruption in his precinct as Captain, sadly distracted by his wife’s heart-breaking battle with illness, trusting in his deputies in his hour of need, but painfully dealt a harsh lesson of misplaced trust.

And it’s Colin Farrell’s Jimmy that leads the motley crew of “beats” that dishonour the power and trust placed in them, brilliantly unhinged and totally deceitful; he is a typical jock whose wolf in sheep’s clothing portrayal genuinely irks when as an outsider married into the Tierney clan, owes the greatest debt of loyalty. Jimmy is brilliantly loathsome.

Edward Norton capably does tough guy as streetwise Ray, who represents the family nobility and is the natural opposite to Farrell, demonstrating yet again his deserved stature as one of the finest actors of his generation with a subtly dexterous performance. A throwback bar brawl finally proves Norton’s tough lead-man credentials when choosing to take his man down with an old fashioned honourable method.

With superb acting performances throughout, tied together by O’Connor’s Gritty direction and great screenplay, Pride and Glory is a captivating, family cop drama that is as good as any of its kind in recent years.

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