Monday, December 8, 2008

Movie review: Pride and Glory (2008)

Pride and Glory (2008)
Director:Gavin O'Connor
Writers (WGA): Joe Carnahan (screenplay) & Gavin O'Connor (screenplay)
Release Date:24 October 2008 (USA)
Tagline: The last thing you want to the truth.

Cast (Major)
Colin Farrell - Jimmy Egan
Edward Norton - Ray Tierney
Jon Voight - Francis Tierney, Sr.
Noah Emmerich - Francis Tierney, Jr.

Pride and Glory is a film that has been on my short list to see for some time now, but was seemingly relegated to limited screen time nationwide. Only two theaters within 50 miles of me have showings, and only 2 separate viewing times, late at night.

This generally means one of two things in the movie industry:

1. It is a new release with a lot of hype potential that will explode late in the year to a huge audience or,

2. It didn't work out so well and nobody is showing it anymore.

I'm not sure this particular movie falls under either category, oddly enough, so I'll create a third:

3. Wonderful gem, with little or no hype, that has been passed by and sent to die a slow death in dark movie houses with artificial popcorn and less than 80 seats per screen.

It would be easy to dismiss this film as just another in a long line of dirty cops getting what they deserve, but that would be a terrible injustice. Wedged within 120 minutes are some truly spectacular performances, including more than one Oscar-worthy role.

The scene is New York City and the Tierney family is mixed up in varying degrees with shady cop business. From the very beginning we get what is arguably Jon Voight's finest performance in long-term memory as Francis Tierney, Sr., long time NY police office. I have no other word to describe it than gritty, for he really captures the feel of what it must be to oversee a family of cops in NY, hardened by the job but clinging to the self-imposed necessity to protect the family name.

His sons Ray Tierney (Norton) and Francis Tierney, Jr. (Emmerich), and step-son Jimmy Egan (Farrell) are tough cops, each with his own demons to fight.The amazing aspect of this film is that at no point can I clearly say who the story is about, and that leaves an impression on me, even now, as I think back to what I saw, that seemingly feels correct.

A lot happens in 2 hours, and when you catch on to the director's vision it doesn't feel right to pick Ed Norton's character as the driving force, although it would seem like the way to go.This film is about ethics and morals and codes and bad cops and varying degrees of right and wrong, but it is also very much about family, in a twisted and seedy way.

Norton is fabulous in this role as the tormented son who made a tough decision years ago that still haunts him. It is ultimately he who pursues the clues that lead him to unthinkable crimes within the precinct and ultimately his own family.Farrell, likewise, puts on a seamless portrayal of a cop with a family trying to get by, and I quickly was able to forget previous roles he played and immerse myself in his character as the step-son with a lot of skeletons to hide.

The surprise role to me was that of Emmerich, playing the ambitious son who rose through the ranks, and now must face the consequences of his actions. Known well to me for two outstanding roles in Beautiful Girls (1996) and The Truman Show (1998), both as the best friend, if I had a vote in the Academy he would get a first ballot nod for Best-Supporting Actor, as his role really cements the family together and ties the story into one cohesive unit.

Intertwined with the family are incredible supporting spots by a myriad of cops and wives and girlfriends and drug dealers. You will also find one of the most disturbing scenes of potential torture one cop uses to get a suspect to give up evidence. It was as close as I have come to actually turning away from the screen.

One dirty cop, shortly before shooting himself in the head, explains that it all started for Pride and Glory, and then he is dead. That accurately describes the film's underlying theme, and though very dark and disturbing at times, it is a movie that is true to itself.


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