Edward Norton as Ray Tierney
Collin Farrell as Jimmy Egan
Noah Emmerich as Francis Tierney, Jr.
Jon Voight as Francis Tierney, Sr.
Jennifer Ehle as Abby Tierney
John Ortiz as Rubin Santiago
Frank Grillo as Eddie Carbone
Shea Whigham as Kenny Dugan
Lake Bell as Megan Egan
Carmen Ejogo as Tasha
Manny Perez as Coco Dominguez
Wayne Duvall as Bill Avery
Ramon Rodriguez as Angel Tezo
Rick Gonzalez as Eladio Casado
Maximiliano Hernández as Carlos Bragon
They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and it probably is, but it can make for some awfully dull films. That's not entirely the filmmakers fault--the line between inspiration and imitation is very fine--but it doesn't stop them from crossing it repeatedly. The crime film is one of the most ill-treated this way, particularly since it reached its (to date) artistic zenith in the '70s. A zenith many fellow travelers have tried to reach again by treading the exact same path. "Pride and Glory" isn't the worst of these, nor the best. It's just the latest.
"Pride and Glory" is of the corrupt cop flavor of crime film. The Tierney family is firmly ensconced in the New York Police Department. Patriarch Francis Senior (Jon Voight) is near the top of the ladder and Francis Junior (Noah Emmerich) looks to be heading there some day as well. Even his daughter has kept it in the family. Unfortunately, the problems are all in the family, too. When youngest son Ray (Edward Norton) is assigned to investigate a cop killing, it starts to become clear son-in-law Jimmy (Collin Farrell) has been using his badge to take over criminal territory instead of getting rid of it,
There's probably not much I can say about "Pride and Glory" that's better than Charlie Kaufman's scathing description of the genre: "…you explore the notion that cop and criminal are really two aspects of the same person. See every cop movie ever made for other examples of this." "Pride and Glory" is essentially about family, with Tierney's as a microcosm of the police family in general, and the tension between the duty of the job and the duty to the family.
A lot of writers seem to have it in their head that the idea of crime itself is so inherently profound that they don't have to explain why that may be. All that's required is just to show the actions as they happen, and it's up to the audience to do the rest of their work for them. I'll take the profundity argument, but I won't take it on faith.
So if we can write down Bereft Of under the Idea column, all that's really left to tell the men from the boys is Execution. Luckily it's got Edward Norton in it. That same mantle of importance tends to come down on actors in crime films too, turning a lot of scenes into 'intensity' contests. Farrell, doing a really good De Niro impression, falls into that a lot. Norton's too cagey for that, even if his character sounds like he escaped from "Lethal Weapon" (on leave for an ill-defined previous incident, in a broken relationship, living on a houseboat, a houseboat I tell you!) But the combination of weariness and determination feels real coming from. Expected, but still enjoyable.
Noah Emmerich is the other real reason to watch. Emmerich's been a decent character for years who rarely gets a major lead role, but he makes the best of this one. It's easy to feel the emotional turmoil he's going through, especially in his scenes with Jennifer Ehle, and it all feels real.
And that's about all. "Pride and Glory" is a competent enough crime film, but it brings nothing new to the crime film table. Some decent performances let it keep its head above water, but that's all it has going for it.