Pride and Glory - DVD Review

'Farrell’s character manages to get some information out of a gang lieutenant in a brutal shakedown whilst at the same time, Norton illicits the same information from a low-down drug user by basically threatening to do no more than tickle him'

As a 20-something male I will admit to being quite fond of convoluted genre police thrillers. You know; the type that draw thin lines between good and bad or make an obvious distinction with a serial killer/murder mystery for the good guys to solve while running around waving guns in any direction they see fit?

The last one of these I can remember seeing was Street Kings which left me on a bit of a downer about the whole thing. Had this stalwart Hollywood genre really reached the stage where all it could do was recycle old notes making plots predictable to the extreme?

Pride and Glory starts quickly and strongly, suggesting that maybe this is the film to buck the recent trend. Official Pride and Glory Good Guy (Edward Norton) is launched without much ceremony into an investigation into the shooting of a number of officers apparently answering a 911 call in a New York tenement block. The signs are good when the mystery gets going with Good Guy finding that neatest of MacGuffins: a ringing phone, belonging to a key suspect (a scene with echoes of Kevin Spacey ringing Brad Pitt in his own apartment in Seven; ‘Phone? Phone? Phone?’).

However, from here the film quickly starts to deteriorate, throwing one coincidence after another that makes for a thoroughly un-satisfying final half. Increasingly and inexplicably, Official Pride and Glory Bad Guy (Colin Farrell) seems to be in all the wrong places at the right time for Good Guy to do next to no work. In one key section, Farrell’s character manages to get some information out of a gang lieutenant in a brutal shakedown whilst at the same time, Norton illicits the same information from a low-down drug user by basically threatening to do no more than tickle him. Miraculously, however, the clues lead to the same place at the same time (although, note: Farrell does have time to change his clothes first!)

This all builds up to the conclusion which is the mother of all wrong-place, wrong-time endings. It’s made worse by director Gavin O’Connor, who wallows in it for far too long, building up the melodrama to an inevitable conclusion that doesn’t even dare to hint at redemption or condemnation for any character, rather snugly sitting in its dedicated genre position: on the fence.

Maybe Pride and Glory could have been saved if it had followed through on its plot arc of ‘family above all else’. Jon Voight puts in a typically strong turn as Good Guy’s Wavering Dad whilst character actor extraordinaire Noah Emmerich is equally good as Wavering Eldest Son. All these characters are then linked to Bad Guy Farrell through their sister, and his wife, Jennifer Ehle. Of course I say ‘maybe’ because Pride and Glory falls into the trap of so many films before it by completely marginalising the female characters in favour of a bit more testosterone from the men. We never see Ehle’s characters’ reactions to events, even in the films conclusion and aren’t even given the merest hint on which side of the fence she would sit if she knew the goings on behind her family’s net curtains.

In the end, it’s just one flaw too many to even give it an average rating and Ehle is like the metaphorical bird that, landing on the Titantic’s bow, finally pushes the boat under. There are much better examples of the genre than this which follow characters up and provide decent, coincidence free, plotting which makes the old formula of the Good Guy catching the Bad Guy, that bit more satisfying.



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