Pride and Glory

Movie title: Pride and Glory (2008)
Grade: D+ (1 ½ stars)
Rated: R
Director: Gavin O’Connor
Starring: Colin Farrell “Jimmy Eagan,” Edward Norton “Ray Tierney,” Jon Voight “Francis Tierney, Sr.,” Noah Emmerich “Francis Tierney, Jr.,” Jennifer Ehle “Abby Tierney,” John Ortiz “Sandy,” Frank Grillo “Eddie Carbone”
Genre: Action/Drama
Summation: A police investigator begins to discover criminal wrongdoing in his family of fellow law enforcement officers.
Spoilers ahead: No


Pride and Glory is a macho and messy police drama that ought to be placed under arrest for being a stereotypical and unoriginal tale of – you guessed it – corrupt cops. The “F word” is used so many times in this film (and by nearly every character) that at the end of the movie, I thought I was going to want to run outside and sodomize a stray poodle!

One is intended to go away with the unshakable impression that these are tough cops who have lost their way from years of patrolling the tough streets of the tough-as-nails city of New York. But instead, one goes away with the impression that the film tried too hard and crossed the border into Mellowdrama-ville.

I find myself wondering just how many more directors are going to put the settings of their police films in New York. Why is it always New York? How about Minneapolis for a freakin’ change? Minneapolis has police (and drama) too.

The theme of rough-and-tough New York cops is a very played-out theme by now. Plots that center on police corruption consist of water from a well that runs deep. It’ll take some hot spring ideas instead of this stagnant pond water of a movie to make a mark among police dramas.

But this isn’t a total loss. There are very few worthwhile cop movies in existence. This one is down the rung a little ways further. If one wants good police drama, stick with television shows, like NYPD Blue and The Shield.

Pride and Glory opens with a raid gone bad. Four cops have been killed – ambushed, as it turns out – by one of their friends and New York’s finest. The investigation into the matter is headed up by Ray Tierney (Edward Norton), a brother and fellow officer of Francis Tierney Jr. (Noah Emmerich), who, along with fellow officer Jimmy Eagen (Collin Farrell), is looking more and more like a link in the elongating chain of corruption.

The emotion is there. The performances are there. Emmerich, Norton, Ferrell, and Voigt outshine the script and the roles they play as family men and cops who must make daily sacrifices to achieve the greater good for their loved ones and for the city they serve. Good people do bad things. That’s the message of the movie. And corruption comes over time. Bad people aren’t always “just” bad; they were once good, but they lost their way. Too bad Pride and Glory loses its way…or did it ever have it to begin with? I really don’t think so.

If you can look past the pointless profanity and prolonged family scenes that try unceasingly to make you feel for these characters and see them as human beings, the job-related drama still proves to be a small payoff. The jumbled progression of the story and often out-of-control script doesn’t give us much to like. All we learn of these men is that they are angry and corrupt cops (most of them, and some more so than others), and are looking feverishly for the murderer of the four policemen. So you can guess what they do with him when they find him. Here’s a hint: they don’t make sweet love to him!

The officers’ handling of the murderer ignites a firestorm of internal and external departmental controversy that drags on for the rest of the movie. And just when you get ready for it to draw to an end, twenty minutes more of it is still to go! Some of that time is spent in a ridiculous Irish bar fight between two brother cops as an Irish folk tune plays in the background. It’s goofy and unforgivably bad.

Pride and Glory has violence (boatloads of it), cruelty, torture (and almost baby torture), jaw-clenching meanness, corruption, lying, betrayal, fighting, cursing, and more cursing. It has its share of fine and intense acting too, but it’s hard to appreciate due to the sloppy and poorly constructed framework in which it sits. There are better police dramas, like Copland (1997) or Colors (1988) or Training Day (2001).

If you have nothing to do and nowhere to go, if you’re stuck at home and bored out of your mind, this one might be viewable. Otherwise, I’d advise passing it by.