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The Warsaw Voice » Culture » February 4, 2009
The world of movies
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Pride and Glory
February 4, 2009 By Witold ¯ygulski   
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Pride and Glory was originally intended to be made at the end of 2001. But before shooting got underway, 9/11 happened and Hollywood decided to take a little time out from exposing crime and corruption within the ranks of the New York Police Department. The film world felt it had to portray Gotham's finest as shining heroes beyond all reproach. Seven years down the track and screen writers are back to their old clichés about bent cops with the occasional righteous one thrown in for good measure. David Ayer's Street Kings, starring Keanu Reeves and Forest Whitaker, topped the bill last year. You could not help but wonder whether you'd be safer meeting a gangster than a cop on a U.S. street after watching it. Pride and Glory leaves the same impression, only stronger, and rivals Street Kings for violence and foul language. There is nary an utterance without the f-word.

The police in Pride and Glory beat and torture suspects, extort protection money from store owners, deal in drugs, and either kill their colleagues or expose them to certain death. "We sold our badges to the highest bidder," is how one cop puts it in a rare moment of expiation. Most simultaneously manage to be loving husbands and caring fathers.

Despite his limited resume, director Gavin O'Connor (Tumbleweeds, Miracle) was given a top cast to make Pride and Glory. The plot centers around the Tierneys, a large, loving family who stick together no matter what. Well, at least that is how they come across at the start of the movie. The patriarch Francis (Jon Voight-Midnight Cowboy, Heat, National Treasure series) is a high-ranking police officer who has clocked up 40 years of service and only has three years to retirement. His elder son Francis Junior (Noah Emmerich-Cellular, Windtalkers) runs Precinct 31 whose narcotics department has four officers killed in the opening scenes. With a wife dying of cancer, Francis Jr. certainly has a lot on his mind. Francis Senior's younger son Ray (Edward Norton-Red Dragon, The Italian Job, The Painted Veil), is a former detective who transferred to Missing Persons when his fellow cops persuaded him to perjure himself in their defense two years previously. Francis Senior asks Ray to return and join a task force set up to track down the killer of the four police officers. Ray accepts but soon finds himself crossing swords with both his brother and brother-in-law Sgt. Jimmy Egan (Colin Farrell-Alexander, Miami Vice, The Recruit), the not so squeaky clean head of the narcotics department.

Pride and Glory is no crime mystery. The plot is about as straightforward as you can get and most of what there is to reveal is revealed during the first half. Rather, the movie delves into the inner struggles that both the good and the bad cops are going through. No one is either wholly good or bad, nobody's conscience is perfectly clear and while some may be willing to redeem their sins, this option is not always open to them. The elaborate psychological character portrayals are the strong point of the movie. Emmerich's role in particular is so powerful that he gets to upstage stars like Norton and Farrell.
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