Review: Good cop, bad cop … good film

2009-01-04 00:00

Pride and Glory is an intense and challenging watch. Though not perfect, it does mark one of the better films of late.

On the surface it may seem to be yet another film about corrupt cops in the now worn-out police drama genre, but Pride and Glory transcends the nature of your typical cop-flick.

The plot takes shape early on, when four cops are brutally murdered during what should’ve been a routine drug bust, and Ray Tierney (Edward Norton) is assigned the case. He is one in a family of four cops, and things turn sour when he discovers that brother, Francis Jnr (Noah Emmerich) and brother-in-law Jimmy Egan (Colin Farrell) are partially responsible for the tragedy.

This poses the film’s first question. Where should his loyalties lie? Francis Snr (Jon Voight) urges Ray to look the other way and distort facts (something he has done, with bitter regret, in the past), for the sake of the family. It may sound all too familiar a premise, but what separates Pride and Glory from the rest is its central focus — the psyches of its characters. No one is exclusively good or ominously evil, everyone seems fallible and emotion often dictates decisions or choices.

Director Gavin O’Conner chose to shoot the film documentary-style with a lot of camera movement and hand-held shots, which enhances the gritty realism of the overall picture. He’s also managed to get his cast performing at their peaks. The overall standard of acting in Pride and Glory is exemplary. Edward Norton is, as always, sublime, and Colin Farrell does brilliantly in adding depth and humanity to a character that audiences could easily have hated.

The film does have some serious flaws, though, primarily that it drags the whole way through.

Too much time is spent on specific shots and some scenes could’ve been cut. The story isn’t told in a linear fashion and this, coupled with the film’s slow pace, makes it difficult to keep track of what’s going on. If you do have the patience for it, though, Pride and Glory will reward you with a fascinating look into the lives of New York police.

****

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