Judge David Johnson loves Pride and Glory. It's a malt liquor that goes down smooth.
Our review of Pride and Glory: 2-Disc Special Edition, published January 27th, 2009, is also available.
Truth. Honor. Loyalty. Family. What are you willing to sacrifice?
Director Gavin O'Connor's saga of corrupt cops won't do any favors for the NYPD public relations department, but it's a satisfyingly hard-ass thriller.
Facts of the Case
There's a proud legacy in the NYPD for the Tierney family name. Starting at the top is big-shot brass and family patriarch Francis Sr. (Jon Voight, National Treasure); son Francis Jr. (Noah Emmerich, Little Children) is a commanding officer; and son Ray (Edward Norton, The Incredible Hulk) has been tapped to lead the investigation of a cop massacre. Unfortunately, Ray's detective work leads him to a cabal of corrupt officers who've been ravaging the streets of Washington Heights for fun and profit. As an added complication, these cops are operating out of Francis' division. Even better, the ringleader is their psycho brother-in-law Jimmy (Colin Farrell, In Bruges).
As you can probably surmise, family connections, department loyalty and self-preservation collide in a fireball of F-bombs, fists, and strained dining room conversations.
I didn't hear too much about Pride and Glory when it made its theatrical run…and I think I know why: It's not the feel-good movie of the year. In the accompanying making-of documentary, Gavin O'Connor emphasizes he's not out to bash cops, but I haven't seen the boys in blue portrayed as such ugly thugs onscreen since…well, Maniac Cop II. If you can get past some of f-ed up shenanigans the bad guys pull off, you'll actually see a tale of decent men making hard decisions. There is a "right thing to do," but it comes with a steep price and no one is immune to losing big time for taking the straight route. The question that dogs the characters throughout this is: Are those sacrifices enough to compel them to saddle up and do what's right?
Fortunately, O'Connor spends enough time developing the players so their decisions—or indecisions—have real weight. However, some stories don't get as much love, representing missed opportunities for even more dramatic impact. Fran's family especially seemed ripe for more examination, with Jennifer Ehle largely wasted as his dying wife.
That's pretty much the only complaint I can send Pride and Glory's way. It really is a tense procedural, featuring performances of the highest caliber. Norton and Farrell drive the film and they're both electrifying. O'Connor repeatedly claims he's striving for a raw realness and, thanks to his actors (as well as the authentic NYC setting), he nails it. I was absorbed from the get-go. Be warned, this isn't a film for the grandparents. I'm pretty sure it sets the record for most F-bombs in a two-hour span.
On Blu, the film looks awesome. Transferred in a highly detailed 1.85:1 widescreen, the video work is impressive from minute one. The picture is not bursting with color—there are a lot of washed out blues, grayss and greens—but that's a stylistic choice and it works. These guys wanted gritty and it comes through magnificently in high-def. Definitely an upgrade over standard DVD and worth the extra few dollars for the Blu-ray. The audio is equally solid. A robust Dolby TrueHD 5.1 track pushes the sound in a clean and powerful way. When the finale kicks in, the LFE goes ballistic. Only one extra is included, but it's awesome: An hour-plus documentary on the making-of the film. It's brutally honest, featuring candid footage of the filmmaking process, warts on all. There was obviously some on-the-set conflict between O'Connor and Norton, and to both of their credit, they are forthcoming in their interviews. Its fascinating stuff. One of the finest making-of features I've ever seen and proof positive you'd have to be insane to want to direct a studio picture. A Digital Copy is also included.
The focus lags at points, but Pride and Glory is still a high-level cop drama. The Blu-ray is top-notch.
Not Guilty. Now put the nightstick down.
Give us your feedback!
What's "fair"? Whether positive or negative, our reviews should be unbiased, informative, and critique the material on its own merits.
Scales of Justice
Studio: New Line
Review content copyright © 2009 David Johnson; Site design and review layout copyright © 2014 Verdict Partners LLC. All rights reserved.