Dir. Gavin O’Connor. US. 2008 125 min.
After sitting on the shelf for the better part of two years, Gavin O’Connor’s bruising Manhattan melodrama charges into a congested festival lineup breathing fire and smoke. A coiling police saga about the clash between family and career loyalties, Pride and Glory is a familiar but taut thriller sparked by a quartet of committed lead performances and the visual acrobatics of stealth camera ace Declan Quinn, who has also just impressed in Rachel Getting Married.
If Pride does eventually devolve into a hyperbolic windup, it delivers a series of visceral wallops along the way that lift it notches above standard-fare pulp fiction. Fans who turned Narc (also written by Carnahan and shot by Quinn) into a sleeper hit may grow restless with the interpersonal travails of its cops, played by Edward Norton, Colin Farrell and Noah Emmerich, however.
A goateed Norton brings a bluesy melancholy to the role of Ray Tierney, a missing persons investigator who is yanked out of his post to look into the brutal slaying of four cops on a drug bust in Washington Heights. The assignment is a hot potato for Ray, reeking as it does of conflicts of interest. The Chief of Detectives who recruits Ray happens to be his father, Francis Tierney Sr. (Voight), while the four murdered cops were under the command of his brother, Francis Tierney Jr. (Emmerich) and worked shoulder-to-shoulder with his brother-in-law Jimmy Egan (Farrell).
The family connections land Ray in an impossible position when all the signposts of his investigation point to a string of outrageous police abuses that potentially implicate both his brother and, most poisonously, his brother-in-law. His father, who had initially given Ray a mandate to leave no stone unturned, is now asking him to let them lie.
Taut encounters throwing Farrell and his bad-apple cronies into the ring with neighbourhood drug dealers alternate with dreary interpersonal scenarios, depicting the emotional struggles of Francis Jr.’s cancer-beset wife (Ehle) and Ray’s futile attempts to win back his estranged spouse (Carmen Ejogo).
The performances are uniformly fine. Voight invests his patriarchal role with a gravitas that lifts the character above precinct cliche, while Farrell’s loose-cannon explosiveness is perfectly balanced against Norton’s implosive willfulness. The real star of ‘Pride and Glory’ is ubiquitous cinematographer Declan Quinn, however, whose stalking stalking camera effectively turns the viewer into Ray’s silent co-investigator, as it sneaks around corners, peers through window panes and picks up on covert conversations.
New Line Cinema
New Line International