10 November 2008

Pride and Glory Review

There is a phrase that more or less sums up Pride and Glory: "The box is my home - it was made for a reason, wasn't it?". Yes it was - it was put in place so you could poke at its boundaries, not stay firmly within its confines. Well, apparently Gavin O'Connor never heard of this 'boundary pushing' thing, and so he's very happy in his Cube, thank-you very much. But then again, we're not looking for a genre to be redefined - we're looking for some entertainment; and the unfortunate thing is that O'Connor's film works in small bursts scattered throughout its running time.

Pride and Glory is a so-called 'family-orientated' cop thriller, centring around the lives of brothers Ray and Francis Tierney (Ed Norton and Noah Emmerich respectively), as well as their brother-in-law Jimmy Egan (Colin Farrell). After a grisly shootout which involves the deaths of four NYPD officers, Ray is assigned to the investigation - and it transpires that Jimmy is somehow involved, becoming a dirty cop right under Francis' nose. Eventually, both Ray and Francis will have to choose between their loyalties - the NYPD, or family.

So at first glance, it does seem like it ticks all the boxes, doesn't it? But therein lies the problem. A bad movie can occasionally be commended for at least trying something new and interesting; but Pride and Glory is conversely condemned for taking absolutely no risks in its little niche. Which is a shame, because - ignoring the arse-numbingly unnecessary 155-minute running time - there's actually very little that's genuinely wrong with it.

Performance-wise, it could well be considered absolutely stellar. Ed Norton is on his best form since Fight Club with the terminally damaged Ray Tierney, the brother caught up in the whole thing and truly at his wits end; his transition from mere investigator to emotional participant is both convincing and moving. The not-top-billed Noah Emmerich is on fine form too - you might remember his performance as the "best friend" in The Truman Show, and this is yet another understated yet pitch perfect portrayal. Francis is a broken man - torn between paying attention to his precinct's officers and tending to his dying wife. There's an absolutely incredible moment of raw emotion from the man that is both unsettling and fascinating, but to go further is to spoil the plot. Colin Farrell - with a not-deserving-of-top-billing role - still puts in a decent performance, his Jimmy all heart and only cursory amounts of brains.

Whether or not these performances are down to the director or the quality of the actors playing them is a good question; but I'd put my money on the latter. There really is very little flair elsewhere, with O'Connor content to let the story drawl itself out - almost like it's being told by an elderly relative. There are some flashes of brilliance - a scene involving Farrell, an iron and a baby is a terrifying prospect; a one-man raid by Norton on a 6-storey-building is gratifyingly tense - but it's simply not concentrated enough to convince. But again, there's nothing bad about it...it's simply average. Perhaps O'Connor would've benefited from a superior editing department, because there is potential for there to be a decent film in here somewhere. But this 155-minute, flabby cut isn't it.

At the end of the day, Pride and Glory is quite a tricky film to review. It doesn't really have anything that should get you running from your houses and into the nearest cinema, but - on the flipside of the coin - I can honestly see no reason why you should avoid it like a particularly large, plague-infested rat. Try it...there's the off chance you might enjoy it.

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