New Line // 2008 // 130 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Michael Rubino // January 27th, 2009
The last thing you want to uncover...is the truth.
This good cop/bad cop thriller didn't do so hot at the box office. Now it's back for a second life on DVD with a two-disc special edition. Can strong acting and a striking visual style make up for a muddled and generic police story? The jury has returned with a verdict.
Four police officers are killed during a drug raid. Word on the street is that the dealers were tipped off. The investigation and hunt for the killers centers around a family of police officers: the back-from-retirement detective, Ray (Ed Norton, The Incredible Hulk); his brash beat cop cousin, Jimmy (Colin Farrell, Cassandra's Dream); Ray's brother and commanding officer, Frank Jr. (Noah Emmerich, Miracle); and Ray and Frank's father, Frank Sr. (Jon Voight, Transformers).
Ray wastes little time calling up old informants and tracking down leads. When he discovers that Jimmy, and a group of dirty cops, are involved, he has to choose between telling the truth and sticking by family.
Pride and Glory is as generic as its name suggests. It's your standard issue potboiler that follows two brothers-in-law as they try to fight for what they believe is right. It's another movie about crooked cops abusing their power, beating up minorities, and covering up their ill doings. There's little here that's uplifting or even thrilling, and any mystery surrounding whodunnit is cleared up almost as soon as the film starts.
Perhaps the movie wouldn't have been so difficult to get through, if it at least focused on the main cat-and-mouse investigation. Instead, Pride and Glory gets bogged down by countless subplots involving Ray's ex-wife, Frank Jr.'s wife who is dying of cancer, a cop-hating reporter, and a dad with a drinking problem. None of that's necessary, and all of it feels inserted for dramatic effect. Worse yet is the dialogue, which is laden with F-bombs for added drama. The lines are dull and lifeless, despite the fact they're often yelled.
The acting in Pride and Glory, however, is top notch. This is another case where Ed Norton simply outshines the script he's been given. The guy is a great actor, now it's time for him to pick some better material. Farrell, Voight, and Emmerich are all equally good, and each has his own twist on a New York accent (with varying degrees of success). Everyone in the film seems to be giving it their all, which helps elevate the movie above the script for at least the first act; after that, even strong acting can't help matters.
All of the film's problems can really be found in the script, which was co-written by director Gavin O'Connor (Miracle). Without it, the movie actually has a lot going for it. O'Connor's direction is intense, with a gritty and visceral style. The camera is perhaps a little too shaky during the fight scenes (and don't get me started about that stupid brawl at the end of the film), and they don't have the budget for car chases. These moments are few and far between. It's the bleak urban scenes, most of which are at night, that really showcase O'Connor's style well.
On DVD, O'Connor's high-contrast style looks great. The film has a largely bluish-gray color palette, which comes off sharp and rich in the transfer. The sound is pretty good as well, although at times I found the softer dialogue to be a little too quiet. Overall, though, it's a solid release on the technical side.
The way the release is set up is a little strange. The first disc only has the feature film. The second contains the only special feature and a digital copy of the movie. Normally I wouldn't be too keen on having to plop in a second disc for a lonely featurette, but Pride and Glory is a little different. The featurette, called Source of Pride, is an hour-long documentary on the making of the film. Not only is it in-depth, but it's not all fluff either. I really enjoyed it, although I wish the audio was a little better; much of it was shot on set with, I assume, cheaper camera equipment, so everyone is a little hard to hear. The documentary is also broken up by chapters, so you don't have to watch it all in one sitting. It makes up for a complete lack of extras on the first disc.
Pride and Glory is a very vulgar, gritty cop movie that manages to feel like just about every other cop movie out there. The acting and visual style are good, but the script is a mess of subplots and generic storytelling. This may make for good cable TV fodder some day, but there are better cop movies out there worth your money.
Review content copyright © 2009 Michael Rubino; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: New Line
* 1.85:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
Running Time: 130 Minutes
Release Year: 2008
MPAA Rating: Rated R
* Digital Copy