Thursday, October 23, 2008
The blurry line between good cops and bad cops gets another shakedown in Pride and Glory, and the results are mixed. Solid performances highlight a visually grim picture with a predictable story that never gets out of its own way.
In a welcome relief from the oft-maligned LAPD, this time it’s the NYPD (apparently no longer sacrosanct after 9/11) getting the third degree. There are bad cops on the take for the right reasons (to provide for family, to work outside the lines and clean up the streets), and good cops who are too virtuous to let them get away with it. It’s all very frustrating to watch. One supposes it’s a compliment that the movie gets you so involved you want to personally shake some sense into the main characters, but when that frustration turns to annoyance it’s hard to stay invested.
At the center of writer/director Gavin O’Connor’s drama is the Tierney family, a clan of cops with vastly different priorities. Ray (Edward Norton) has been off the street for two years after a bad experience, while his brother Francis (Noah Emmerich) leads his own unit. They have a sister, Megan (Lake Bell), whose husband, Jimmy (Colin Farrell), is also a cop. And the Tierney’s father, Francis Sr. (Jon Voight), is a chief who knows how the system works, which makes it all the more baffling when no one listens to him.
The script, which was co-written by Joe Carnahan (Smokin’ Aces), takes place around Christmas and centers on the investigation of four murdered policemen. Jimmy leads his fellow officers in an investigation, while Ray leads a task force and learns that the killer is Angel Tezo (Ramon Rodriguez). From here it’s interesting to see Jimmy and Ray pursue Angel in their own way, but darn if you don’t constantly think how much better off they’d be if they worked together. But wait, they can’t: If they did, there’d be no dramatic tension leading up to one realizing that the other is corrupt.
Although the focus is on finding Angel, each man has a distracting personal subplot that serves little purpose. Ray has a soon-to-be ex-wife (Carmen Ejogo) who appears in two needless scenes, and Francis Jr. has a wife (Jennifer Ehle) who’s terminally ill. Only Jimmy’s personal life is relevant, largely because it’s Megan who provides the familial tie to the Tierneys. These subplots are here, of course, so the men can be viewed as real people and not just caricatures, but the presence of these women is completely irrelevant to the story.
It’s nice for a police procedural to strive for reality, but the way the story unfolds is illogical and hardly realistic. We’re supposed to be engrossed as the virtues of honesty and truth bring heartache and pain, but the impracticality of the main characters’ actions undermines their moral and personal dilemmas. This leaves us with 125 long, cold minutes in which you stop caring about who’s good or bad and just want things to end.
PRIDE AND GLORY (2) Directed by Gavin O’ Connor. Starring Colin Farrell, Edward Norton and Jon Voight. R, 125 min. At Century Cinemas Del Monte Center, Maya Cinemas, Northridge Cinemas.