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Pride and Glory a tired bad-cop movie

by Glen Baity

Atthis point in my movie-going life, I can think of a long list of thingsI’d rather watch than a group of hardened big-city cops waxing poeticabout loyalty.

So Pride and Glory, to put it kindly,might not have been the film for me. A chatty, overlong slog, its manycharacters are preoccupied with where a police officer’s trueallegiance should reside, and they talk about it. And talk about it.Then shout about it. Then talk about it some more. A few shots arefired, some punches thrown, but mostly it’s talking. The filmfollows a family of cops: patriarch Frances Tierney Sr. (Jon Voight);his sons, commanding officer Frances Jr. (Noah Emmerich) and detectiveRay (Edward Norton); and son-in-law Jimmy (Colin Farrell), a patrolman.Pride and Glory opens with a bang, as Jimmy, Ray and Frances arecalled to the scene of a bloodbath that has claimed the lives of fourof Frances Jr.’s men. The city and the department are in an uproar, andRay signs up for the special investigative unit assigned to the case.But he gets more than he bargained for when he finds out that the trailleads right back to the boys in blue, in particular to Frances Jr. andJimmy, who are tied up to varying degrees in a cops-for-hire scheme. Itseems local gangsters are renting badges to use as muscle, and the dealis spinning out of control. It gets a bit more complicated, and thejargon-heavy script makes it all a bit hard to follow, but those arethe particulars. This set-up leads to plenty of second- andthird-act rumination on what Ray should do with the knowledge of hisbrothers’ misdeeds. With Internal Affairs creeping in the shadows,should he do right by the city he serves? Or should his familial bondsrestrain him? Is blood really thicker than water? You’ve probably seen this good-copbad-cop routine before, and there’s nothing about Pride and Glory torecommend it above other tarnished badge yarns. One of the more amazingthings about this story is that it actually took four guys to come upwith it, and one of them Joe Carnahan. He wrote 2002’s Narc, anexcellent, bare-knuckle genre piece that stayed one step ahead of theviewer, and was highlighted by one the best performances of RayLiotta’s career.

Carnahan’s latest is nothing like that taut bruiser. Pride and Glory neededabout two fewer writers and a more strict editor to trim 30 or 40unnecessary minutes off the final product. The film spends a lot oftime navel-gazing, and director Gavin O’Conner doesn’t have the senseto reign in his cast’s melodramatic tendencies. There’s a lot ofblatant overacting here — Emmerich is probably the worst offender, buthe’s by no means the only guilty party — and it gives the film anartificial weight. This problem is exacerbated by a few plot points —Ray’s estranged wife, Frances Jr.’s wife with cancer, Frances Sr.’spretty-obvious alcoholism — that ultimately add nothing to the film butphony gravitas. In the end, Ray is the classic honest copstuck in a no-win situation by a few loser colleagues who happen to behis flesh and blood. There are a lot of feverish lectures about loyaltyand honor, a lot of envelopes stuffed full of dirty money, a lot ofrighteous “you broke my heart!” speeches from one brother to the next.It’s been done a million times, and while Pride and Glory is mainly mediocre, its crowded plot and overwrought acting drag it under.

To comment on this article, send your e-mail to glen.baity@gmail.com.

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