Gritty, grim and hand-held on the outside but determined to be epic on the inside, Gavin O’Connor’s Pride & Glory combines some wonderful performances from its A-list cast with an overly long and erratic screenplay to produce a predictable cop-corruption story of brothers on either side of the law. Opening with a crime scene where four cops lie dead or dying, Sergeant Francis Tierney (Noah Emmerich) tries to piece together what happened to his men. His father Francis Tierney Snr. (Jon Voight) is a senior police captain and uses the event to coax his other son Detective Ray Tierney (Edward Norton) to lead the investigation into the crime. Ray’s methodical and intelligent approach slowly uncovers a group of corrupt cops linked to the killing – including brother in law Jimmy Egan (Colin Farrell).
These four policemen – all in one family, and all together over the Christmas season – must ride out the life and death implications of the truth as it unravels through a bloody series of cover ups and violent killings – mostly involving the Latin-American community of New York. Always close in the background are the wives and children of the four men, and it becomes a key theme of the film along with the idea of the police force as family – and the extent that it will tend to close ranks to protect itself.
Jon Voight is superb as the father trying to keep the lid on a family and a force falling apart around him. His senior Irish-American cop is powerfully persuasive at work but at home, with a few too many scotches in him, turns endearingly nostalgic. This honest portrayal of family life is where the film is at its best – perhaps a reflection of its creators – the brothers Gavin & Gregory O’Connor, themselves sons of a New York detective. Director Gavin O’Connor maintains an intense attention to the tough and grimy details of life in the back streets of New York and the homes of the underpaid men in blue – thanks to the work of experienced production designer Dan Leigh – who’s worked on films as varied as Eternal Sunshine of The Spotless Mind, Basquiat and the recently released Bride Wars. Edward Norton gives another subtle and understated performance – a hurt man at odds with those more outspoken and desperate around him, whilst Farrell looks more than a tad underwhelmed with proceedings – in particular his ludicrous final scene with Norton. The verdict: something old, little new, much borrowed and plenty of blue.