Pride and Glory

A Cop Movie Without Robert Duvall

Starring: Colin Ferrell, Ed Norton

By Robert Patrick

Pride and Glory, director Gavin O’Connor’s law enforcement drama, wont be breaking any new ground, I’m sure. But it is a fairly entertaining little homage to the action genre. The film’s plot is about a family of police officers, whose legacy is universally respected, being pulled into the corrupt underbelly of crime. The movie, as you can probably tell by my early analysis of the plot, deals with the examination of right and wrong, family and duty, and other moralistic marriages in life. We also get, in great detail, crowbars wrapping into people’s skulls, severe facial lacerations, and other reprehensible violence throughout the film. In fact, there isn’t much surreptitiousness at all in O’Connor’s newest effort. For instance, you may not forgive the director, I think, when a baby’s face is dangerously close to being seared by a piping hot iron.

Francis Tierney, Sr. (Jon Voight), a retired officer on the force, has spawned a lineage of proud policemen. Tierney’s oldest son, Francis, Jr. (Noah Emmerich), is a high ranking member of the NYPD. Diplomatic and naïve, Francis, Jr. is an unlikely candidate for such a prominent position within the department. And though the dog-eyed leader is no wunderkind, he is beloved by the men serving under him. In real life, I’m not sure this promotion would’ve transpired. Francis, Sr.’s other son, the less successful, but ultimately more resilient Ray Tierney (Ed Norton), is another member of the force. More adept at dealing with issues than his brother, Ray is the most head-strong and potentially ornery of the bunch. The most explosive in the family of cops, though, is Jimmy Egan (Colin Ferrell), Francis and Ray’s brother-in-law.

Jimmy spends his afternoons as a loving father and a dedicated husband. In the evenings, he is a nefariously deplorable cop, who stops at nothing to get what he wants. When he thinks it necessary, Jimmy threatens entire families, despite the love of his own, to ascertain money or information. The other cops in his precinct, sharing Jimmy’s lust for easy cash, go on a similar rampage whenever they want.

Really, the whole movie revolves around Jimmy’s crooked affairs with the underworld of New York City – and unbeknownst to Francis, Jr., this is all happening beneath his nose. Because of the strong belief in his men, Francis, Jr. believes the vicissitude of suspicious behavior is nothing to be seriously addressed. For all he knows, Jimmy and company are doing their jobs, making peace with the world, and carrying out their duties.

Eventually, no matter how hard Jimmy tries to cover his tracks, Ray is called on to investigate the problematic issues at hand. The movie, from here on out, is a violent series of impromptu interrogation sessions. Between Ray and Jimmy getting information from the city’s respective gang bangers, I don’t think there’s a single conversation that takes place without someone’s head being mashed into a brick wall. Lucky for us, every person questioned is completely reticent, enabling them to be continuously beat into submission by our curious cop figures.

Okay, so Ray, being as maliciously resourceful as he is, can still be dubbed the white knight of the bunch – which, I know, isn’t saying much for the rest of the characters. But at least Ray, flawed as he is, knows that he cannot let corruption overrun the police department, even if we do have to see him plow a cue ball into someone’s face at some point in the movie to prove his case.

Sure, Pride and Glory is a little over baked. For the first twenty minutes it almost came off as an extended episode of Law and Order. The middle of the movie was passable. And the implausibility of the climax almost capsizes any believability the story may have had. But, overall, it’s a decent picture. It’s sure as hell better than Righteous Kill, anyway.

So how is the acting?

Jon Voight, playing the most uninteresting character fathomable, simply exists in this movie to look nobly confused. Of course, when he’s not wagging his finger, the rickety, old codger is throwing back hard alcohol with repetitious succession. I’m gathering that this role wasn’t exceedingly difficult for someone who once, in the movie Deliverance, had to scale a wet mountainside without assistance.

Colin Ferrell’s performance, as good as it is, isn’t necessarily anything new. The Irish born ruffian rolls up his sleeves for yet another bad boy characterization; he snickers at the weak, threatens people with the standard bigotry you would expect from a racist police officer, and drinks like a mule. There was certainly no misplaced trust with this casting decision, I’m sure. The typical fireworks that we have come to expect from Ferrell are on full display in Pride and Glory.

The real charm here comes from Ed Norton’s portrayal of the disparaged good guy. Given, it’s not really a departure from past roles, but it is nice to see the weary-eyed star sink his teeth into a movie that requires him to do more than transform into a behemoth CGI fixture.

None of the characters in Pride and Glory claim to be a Seraphim, by any means, but I’m sure Gavin O’Connoll was expecting to show you the flawed side of the law. And by that, I mean you better come to the theatre expecting Colin Ferrell to shove a two by four down your throat.


Author: Rob Patrick

The program director of the Olympia Film Society, Rob is also a former San Diego Film Critics Society member. He has written for The East County Californian, The Alpine Sun, The East County Herald, The San Diego Entertainer, and the San Diego Reader. When he isn't curating a film festival, he is drinking rosé out of a plastic cup in Seattle or getting tattoos from Jenn Champion.

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