Sadly there is very little glory or pride to be found in Gavin O’Connor’s Pride and Glory. an attempt at a gritty New York City police crime drama involving a family with a deep history of service wearing the blue uniforms of NYPD’s Finest.
Starring two time Academy Award nominee Edward Norton (Primal Fear, American History X), Colin Farrell, Noah Emmerich and Academy Award winner Jon Voight (who has three nominations to go along with his win for Coming Home), this is a movie with a stellar cast of talented actors. Add a director (O’Connor) who has achieved success both critically (Tumbleweeds) and commercially (Miracle) and yet with all of that going for it, Pride and Glory doesn’t live up to its promise.
The story is simple enough. While the key players are occupied elsewhere, four street cops under the command of “Sgt Jimmy Egan” (Farrell), who is under the command of “Inspector Francis Tierney Jr”., (Emmerich), who is trying to make it into the upper echelons of the NYPD brass and follow in the footsteps of his father, “Chief Francis Tierney Sr.” (Voight). The problem is, there are problems with the situation involving the deaths of these cops and as the truth begins to come to light, there are questions coming up that no one wants to try to answer.
Worse yet, it is “Detective Ray Tierney” (Norton) who is asked by his father to join the task force investigating these killings. He was put into a dead end job after a scandal where he took the fall for something and someone else to protect other cops. This may be a way back into the good graces of the police powers that be. In any event he has no choice about taking this case, his former partner is among the four victims. The further that Ray digs, the worse things look for Jimmy and Ray’s investigation is something that both his father and older brother would like to see “handled” to protect Jimmy.
That is because Jimmy happens to be married to the sister of Ray and Francis Jr., and if things are not complicated enough, Francis Junior’s ability to properly supervise his command is being severely hampered by the fact that his own wife is terminally ill with a debilitating disease that means the upcoming holiday season is probably their last together.
As always, Edward Norton is excellent. He brings nuance and perspective to every role I’ve ever seen him in and I continue to be amazed as his ability to transcend ordinary material. He is among the best actors of his generation and I wish he would work more and take on more challenging roles. In pedestrian fare like this, his talents are lost among the plodding plot, overly burdened characters and a story that asks its characters to take on loyalty at levels not normally found in real life, even among cops.
This movie had a lot of potential before it was made. To quote Linus Van Pelt, “there is no heavier burden than a great potential.” Pride and Glory did not handle that burden well.