It is amusing what a difference the Atlantic can make. On one side you have "dirty cops" whilst the other offers up "bent coppers", the connotations of which can’t help but raise a smile. But dirty cops is the focus of Pride and Glory, a subject to which Hollywood is no stranger.
Outsider Ray Tierney (Ed Norton) comes on board to lead a task force investigating the shooting of four NYPD officers. Family ties are at the centre of the mix, as Ray’s brother, Franny (Noah Emmerich) is Captain of the officers gunned-down, whilst his brother-in-law Jimmy Eagan (Colin Farrell) is their Sergeant. This family umbrella is topped-out by Jon Voight, retired NYPD too.
As the family affair unfolds something of a historical plot is revealed that never really comes to the fore, except to suggest there has been moral discord in the past. It may be a mechanism to give depth to the characters but really doesn’t achieve much other than to raise issues that are never really explored.
As with all cop/military movies, the bond of men in uniform emerges with something of a dilemma posed as to which is the right way to go. Blood may be thicker than water, but what happens when you throw family ties into the mix?
Ultimately the fairly straightforward plot unfolds, offering little than the revelation that Colin Farrell’s character is a bit of a bad ass: a break of character role for him then. Not.
It’s not that the plot is flawed, but it is rather linear and doesn’t offer much in the way of surprises. It is pretty clear what is happening about 20 minutes in after which you'll get bored waiting for the killer twist that never surfaces.
With the plot offering up little in the way of surprises, Pride and Glory is left hanging on the strength of the family relationships and whether this will ultimately contort the players into any uncharacteristic moral positions. Surprisingly and disappointingly it doesn’t. The bad ass is the bad ass, people realise their responsibilities and you’re left wondering if the film is going to challenge at any point.
In terms of performance, Jon Voight as the slightly drunk father is good, slurring out his over-emotional pap which will bring a smile to your face, but offers little else. Farrell is Farrell through and through and doesn’t seem too far removed from SWAT (another film about bent coppers and drug money) expect on the side of the moral balance.
Ed Norton is convincing, but you can’t help feeling that the assemblage of acting talent has been let down buy a plot that lacks intrigue and a script that offers little in the way of emotion.
That’s not to say there aren’t some interesting moments, Farrell with an iron to a baby’s head will put a lump in most parent’s throats, but whilst the dirty cops go about their merry business there seems to be little in the way of comeback for any of their actions.
Ultimately, the conclusion hangs on the investigation of the shooting of Hispanic drug dude Angel Tezo, the first incident of police naughtiness that seems to warrant a closer look.
So things don’t really hang together too well or feel that original either. It doesn't really encroach on the likes of The Departed and it starts to feel a lot like a scene from Copland (also starring Emmerich), but without the interesting juxtaposition between home and work lives, or a fat Stallone.
Some interesting moral questions are approached, but ultimately you never really care.