| The Red Right Hand
PRIDE AND GLORY
Pride And Glory opens with an inter-precinct friendly football victory sullied by the deaths of four fellow New York police officers. All subsequent plot devices stem from this key event and unravel to their fairly typical conclusion. I must admit, the intensely shaky-cam start threw most of the audience - I realise this was the director's intent but opening a film with a 'shaky start' (you'll have to forgive that horrendous pun) is never the wisest choice when establishing characters and scenarios. The feature then follows the actions and investigations of the Tierneys - a family consisting of drunken Irish cop dad, Francis Snr. [Voight], older cop brother, Francis Jnr [Noah Emmerich], younger cop brother, Ray [Norton] and crooked cop brother-in-law, Jimmy Egan [Farrell].
I've only seen one of Gavin O'Connor's previous offerings (2004's Miracle) but he has clearly demonstrated that he is a more than capable director with an eye for realism and gritty detail. Unfortunately, one of Pride And Glory's biggest flaws is the incredibly slow pacing. As a fan of crime-drama (when it's done well, at least), I enjoy a story that takes its time unravelling all the relevant intricacies and clues but sometimes these genre pieces can stagnate in their own leisurely pace. This movie also prides itself on the grittiness of its content - removing all subtitles to enhance the reality and immersion and a rather controversial scene in which Farrell's character extracts information by threatening a young baby with an iron - creating a very dark genre piece but with such a bland and familiar plot thread, I'm not entirely sure who the intended audience is; clearly the movie is a little samey for genre fans but a little too slow to ensnare your average cinemagoer. No doubt the names in the cast will manage to draw audiences in, so that they may decide for themselves.
Speaking of the cast, the performances completely outweigh any glaringly obvious flaws. Each officer has his own personal struggles and influential elements that help flesh out the character, reminding us these aren't the usual cookie-cutter troubled cops (even though, in truth, they kind of are). The secondary characters (largely consisting of 'the women in their lives') also deserve a mention for their performances but for some reason I found it quite difficult to actually give a crap about any of them. To be honest, this is a double-edged observation as there simply wasn't enough time to go into their lives and as almost nothing is viewed from their perspective, they're kept in the background but that makes perfect sense as these policemen seem to close the door on their troubles, distancing their loved ones.
The whole thing reminded me of both Street Kings and Dark Blue. Both films had fantastic casts, giving great performances and told fairly interesting stories. The problem lies with the fact that we know about corrupt cops and the drama that surrounds them and these films (including Pride And Glory) aren't really saying anything new. Still, a worthy addition to the genre but may have difficulties finding an audience.
7th November 2008
The Scene To Look Out For:
Two annoying moments for you. The first is the standard Irish-American institution which is drinking and fighting. In one of the closing scenes Ray corners Jimmy in a bar and arrests him. Before doing so they silently agree to have a fist-fight to settle things. Placing their badges and guns on the bar, they go at it to the sound of some upbeat fucking jig. A point I curiously praised in The Departed and yet one that I usually cringe at the sight of. It was just so completely ridiculous and unnecessary.
The four leads (Emmerich, Farrell, Norton and Voight) all do exceptionally well and outshine those around them. It could be argued that the supporting cast weren't really afforded the opportunity to act out their roles but that's a matter of scripting as opposed to acting. If I had to select one of the four, I would elect Farrell, for the intensity and deviousness he brought to his character.
FRANCIS SNR: "I had a glass of whiskey"
RAY: "One glass?"
FRANCIS SNR:"Yeah, I used the same glass"
In A Few Words:
"Fairly formulaic cop-drama but the cast make it work"