Pride and Glory
Look out! The Hulk’s got a gun!

Theatrical Release Date: 10/24/2008
Director: Gavin O’Connor
Cast: Edward Norton, Colin Farrell, Noah Emmerich, Jon Voight, Jennifer Ehle, Shea Whigham, John Ortiz, Lake Bell, Rick Gonzalez

While this could completely dispel your inclination to read the whole review, if you’ve seen “We Own the Night” the quick answer to whether you should see “Pride and Glory” is probably not – short of an obsession with either Edward Norton, Jon Voight or Colin Farrell. However, since most people probably didn’t see the Mark Wahlberg, Robert Duvall and Joaquin Phoenix version, I suppose I should go ahead and actually write a review … and you should read it all because you love me.

In “Pride and Glory”, Jon Voight is the patriarch of a clan of New York cops. Noah Emmerich is a Captain, in charge of a precinct full of dirty cops; Edward Norton was the promising star on the rise until a previous incident derailed his ascension (hinted at the whole film until finally and anti-climactically explained); and Colin Farrell married into the family and works in Emmerich’s precinct.

As the trailers clearly show, the central issue is Norton investigating corrupt cops – some of whom may very well be his own family. Nothing in the film is truly built as a puzzle, it’s pretty clear who’s good and bad. The question is whether or not the crooked cops will get away with it, and to what extent and culpability Norton will ascribe himself to.

The acting in “Pride and Glory”, for all its top billing, is a little hit and miss. In some scenes, Voight and Farrell convey their characters quite well, evoking emotion and intensity (and who doesn’t love a drunk Grandpa Voight?). In other scenes, they both seem like caricatures or as if they’ve got a plane to catch and just need to get the scene in the can. Norton, not surprisingly, is the most consistent element – managing to maintain more than one layer to his character at all times. I also found Emmerich’s performance to work well. Although he doesn’t carry the star power of his co-stars, he’s managed to make performances in films from over a decade ago (“Beautiful Girls”, “The Truman Show”) stick out in my mind and I was surprised to find that he hadn’t been as omni-present as I thought he was.

There are back stories to everyone in the family, as director Gavin O’Connor and writer Joe Carnahan attempt to develop each character and give them all shades of gray. These work effectively enough on paper and it’s easy to see that the old adage that power corrupts rings true in this household.

The main problem I had was with how the film was shot and put together. The opening scenes are meant to be jarring and so O’Connor decides to use a handheld camera with a very unsteady hand behind it. I’m not kidding when I say that the first five minutes felt rockier than “Cloverfield“. Probably adding to the opening scene’s slightly queasy feeling is that not only is there no steadicam in sight, the zoom on the camera seems stuck on maximum. Everything is so close and tight that for a second I felt claustrophobic.

Thankfully (because I might not have taken any more of it), once the initial set-up scenes have been completed, more traditional and steady camera shots follow. Of course, when the action does ramp up, some of this style comes back into play but not nearly as badly (or I had gotten used to it by then).

I’m going to give “Pride and Glory” a middle of the road 3 out of 5. It is a decent film – only it’s been done many times before and will probably done many times again. While I don’t feel better for having seen it, I don’t necessarily feel worse and that’s almost an accomplishment these days. Star power is perhaps the only thing that should drive people to seek it out but if these types of films interest you, this might be worth the matinee price or a rental in a few months.