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Pride And Glory

Pride And Glory

Total Film

December 2008

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Director Gavin O'Connor
Starring Edward Norton, Colin Farrell, Jon Voight, Noah Emmerich
Cert 15

Rating ****

One of those unloved studio orphans shunned by its own parent, Pride And Glory was embroiled in a minifracas earlier this year when director Gavin O’Connor and stars Edward Norton and Colin Farrell tore into New Line for repeatedly shunting back the film’s release. We only point this out because it shines a light into the mystifying ways of Hollywood, where the line between award-worthy glory and pride-busting ignominy can be absurdly fine.

O’Connor’s movie may lack The Departed’s pyrotechnic sheen, but it’s (mean) streets ahead of most other recent cop thrillers. On the surface, it’s another run-of-the-mill, corruption-laced drama set among New York’s men in blue, with pulpy plot mechanics and not much to say. But familiarity doesn’t breed contempt, because as often as you’ve immersed yourself in this universe of greedy police skulduggery and point-blank mayhem, it’s still welcome when it comes as polished as this. And, keying in on a clan of Irish cops, Glory wears its Sopranos inspiration like a badge of honour, as the Tierneys more than match Tony and co for family honour.

The brusque but proud patriarch is Francis Sr (Jon Voight), a former police chief who coaxes son Ray (Norton) out of his leave of absence to investigate a four-cop slaying following a failed drug bust – then orders him to stand down when Ray peers into a scandal that might bring down eldest son ‘Franny’ (Noah Emmerich) and son-in-law Jimmy (Farrell). Working in parallel to Ray’s investigative beat-work, O’Connor and co-scripter Joe Carnahan pay equal attention to the Tierneys’ domestic set-ups. Family is so critical that the most horrific scene sees one NYPD-er threatening to sear an infant with an iron while his relatives look on.

As Glory’s hard centre, Norton pitches an angry, frayed performance brimming with outrage and strikes sparks with an on-form Farrell, who seizes his character with gusto. O’Connor is a director of previously little note, so it’s all the more startling that he manages to pull off such a gut-puncher, rich with well-defined characters and taut set-pieces.It doesn’t quite pack the wallop that O’Connor intended, a daft fight near the end may evoke laughs and it probably won’t be storming the Academy, but don’t be shocked if you enjoy this as much as Marty’s Oscar victor.

A gritty, top-notch cop-thriller that absorbs with its scandal-laced plot and meaty performances from the whole cast. The patterns of Gavin O'Connor's family-focused police-drama may be predictable but the results are unexpectedly gripping.

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