More noise than signal

Pride and Glory

This review has been ‘repurposed’ from my other site, theOneliner.com

I will take this opportunity to ask you, gentle reader, to direct your attention to the cast list stapled so crudely to the end of this review. There you should notice the names of Colin Farrell, Ed Norton and Jon Voight, and you shall recognise by using your eyes and mind that they are good. And lo, while director Gavin O’Connor may be something of an unknown quantity to most, knowledge that the script in large part for this is from Joe Carnahan, writer/director of the superb Narc should put confidence for something at least watchable at a high. Sadly, this script has more in common with Carnahan’s dismal Smoking Aces than his better work, and it’s the same unmotivated Ed Norton’s Evil Disinterested Twin that was on The Incredible Hulk. Ah well.

Noo Yawk cop family the Tierneys find themselves in the midst of a crisis of ethics and corruption after what would seem to have been a routine drugs bust turns into a charnel house, with four coppers amongst the dead. A task force is swiftly assembled to find the one criminal known to have survived and escaped the carnage, a task force for which Ray Tierney (Norton) reluctantly rejoins active service on behest of his senior cop father Francis Tierney, Sr. (Voight) after a leave of absence after a poorly explained previous operation went south some years ago.

While Ray’s attempting to piece together what went wrong, they’re starting to point in directions altogether too close to home. It seems that there’s a few cops on the beat that are happy to ally themselves with some factions in the eternal war on drugs and take a cut of the spoils, and it further seems that Ray’s brother-in-law Jimmy (Farrell) might be behind the lot of it, and there’s always the question of how much Ray’s elder brother and commanding officer of the lot of them Francis Tierney, Jr (Noah Emmerich) knows about what’s going on.

The point that Pride and Glory is trying to make remains something that’s open to interpretation, which is my polite way of saying that it doesn’t appear to have one. If it wants to be an exploration of family loyalty as it conflicts with professional duty then it leaves that to too late in the film to be more than a glancing inspection, and if it’s looking to be a police procedural thriller slash investigation then it’s far to plodding and stodgy to work as that. If the aim was to produce a rather disappointingly dull hybrid of the two then I guess it’s worked, but I’m going to go out on a limb and say that probably wasn’t the intention.

At times, Pride and Glory seems to want to be a character driven exploration of the family unit, but it also seems unable to provide any of the nuance or detail to follow through on it. There’s little insight into any of the characters or their situations, and most of the little that is given seems like a waste of time. Francis Jr.’s wife is dying. Ray’s separated from his wife. About ten minutes are spent on these, and the difference it makes to the main narrative is so slender as to vanish entirely.

As it happens, I don’t really mind films that don’t seem to have any obvious point to them, as long as they’re in some other way remarkable. Pride and Glory simply isn’t. While the acting performances from the entire cast aren’t what you’d call bad, exactly, they’re not much more than perfunctory, and a good deal of the progression of the plot has less to do with hardnosed gumshoeing than with blind luck and convenient happenstance.

There’s always a problem with aiming for gritty realism, I suppose, in as much as reality tends to be a fairly boring place for much of the time. In that respect, I suppose you can call Pride and Glory a success on that level, as it feels utterly, believably tedious. At about an hour longer than it has any right to be, while it’s a well-produced slice of tedium, it’s still tedium, and at no point does Vinnie Jones hammer out Ted Raimi’s eyeballs, so there’s very little to recommend in Pride and Glory that wouldn’t be bettered by digging out any random episode of NYPD Blue.

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