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TIFF Review: Pride And Glory

On the surface, Pride and Glory has all the markings of a run-of-the-mill corrupt cop/thriller that has nothing new or interesting to say, with an inevitably illogical twist at the end. Perhaps the only real draw for the film is its two leads: the rock-solid Edward Norton trying to forget his role as The Hulk, and the likable Colin Farrell fresh of the surprisingly hilarious and criminally under seen In Bruges. But Pride and Glory succeeds because it grounds itself in fully developed characters who, amidst the violence, greed, dishonor, pride, and glory that comes with bleeding NYPD blue, never waiver in either their morals or motives. Gavin O’Connor’s film is uncompromising in its view that there are only good cops and bad cops, with no grey area in between and no easy way out for either side.

The Tierney family literally lives and breathes for the New York City Police Department. Former police chief Francis (Jon Voight) heads a family of three cops: his sons Ray (Norton) and Francis Jr. (Noah Emmerich), and his son-in-law Jimmy Egan (Farrell). With Christmas fast approaching, the family is struck by tragedy when four cops in Fran Jr.’s division are killed in a brutal shoot-out. Eager to discover what went wrong and why, a task force is assembled to investigate the carnage, and Ray, whose personal demons had him on the sidelines, reluctantly finds himself thrust into the fray. When Ray’s intelligence and intuition lead him in an uncomfortably familiar direction, his whole world comes crashing down around him and the good name of the Tierney family is suddenly shadowed by scrutiny.

Under O’Connor’s steady direction, Pride and Glory’s cast uses his gritty and violent script to perfectly portray a family that faces an impossible adversity. Norton is brilliant as Ray, a man clearly crippled by his past but determined to do everything within his power to remain right in his actions, and both Voight and Emmerich are solid as men in just as deep as he is. On the other side, Farrell is perfect as the emotional and volatile Jimmy, a man who began bending the rules just to get the job done, but slowly fell victim to lust, greed, and corruption. Serving as the backdrop for all the hostility, New York City looks simultaneously seedy and sumptuous; the perfect place to raise a family, but also a hotbed for vice and disloyalty.

Pride and Glory is at times brutally vicious (no baby is safe, trust me), but what else do you expect from men who will do anything to save their reputations? True to itself, its characters, and the rules set down by O’Connor, Pride and Glory is on the level with cop dramas like The Departed, but possibly even better because it relies less on twists, turns, and things left unsaid.