Sunday, October 26, 2008

Pride and Glory

From the first trailer I saw for Pride and Glory, I knew this was a movie I would catch at the theater. Maybe it was the fact that Jon Voight, Colin Farrell and especially Edward Norton appeared as central characters. But it might have been that my curiousity was piqued by the suggestion that a family member might have to cross the Thin Blue Line against his own brother. The trailers gave this film an epic feel that played out the same way in totality. This film delivered everything I expected making it another great film for 2008.

Pride and Glory takes a name that plays on the pro-American Patriotic sensibilities of middle America. It is a very generic name that will probably keep movie goers away. That is unfortunate. A bit more creativity in naming this film might have done it more justice. Something that played off the family theme might have suggested the major elements of this film. It's amazing how much injustice a poorly named film can cause. I almost missed this film when looking up the new releases for the weekend by name. Once I clicked on the link, I immediately realized this was one that I wanted to see.

Pride and Glory tells the story of a police family. It is not uncommon for this profession to get handed down from one generation to the next. Jon Voight is a wheel in the Police Department...forty-one years given to the NYPD. His character, Francis Tierney Sr. has two sons who have followed in his footsteps. Franics Tierney Jr. (Noah Emmerich) is a Captain in the 31st Precinct. The other son, Ray Tierney (Edward Norton), has been voluntarily reassigned to the Missing Persons bureau where he has been hiding for two years since an incident involving police brutality which caused him to lie to the Internal Affairs Bureau. Tierney also has a daughter, Megan Egan (Lake Bell) who is married to one of Captain Tierney's Sergeants, Jimmy Egan (Colin Farrell). The 31st Precinct has gained a reputation for crime down and collars up...but the reputation in the community isn't as positive. Constant shake-downs and police corruption plague the community and have ired regular citizens as well as the criminal element. Francis Tierney Sr. talks his son ray into reassigning from Missing Persons to the Task Force investigating the homicide of four officers in the 31st Precinct. Guys that Ray once worked with. Ray reluctantly agrees and finds himself exorcising his own demons as he realizes that the homicide is pointing toward corruption within his brothers command. Unsure of the level to which this corruption reaches, Ray confronts his brother Franny, who lies to him. The tension in the family creates a family dynamic combined with the law enforcement concept of having each other's back. Ray finds himself in a quandry, trying to decide whether to take the easy way out or whether to follow his heart.

The writing in this film was excellent. There were a few scenes that required a bit of leeway in order to allow events to unfold in the manner that the writers wanted. One such scene has Ray clearing a building following shots fired. That just doesn't seem reasonable. However, the story as a whole delivered a great deal of credibility. The characters were believable and possessed an array of qualities that made them seem human. The human element was carefully crafted into this story which could easily have slipped completely into the police realm. The dialogue was interesting, combining enough police jargon with normal conversation to create a balance. The sub-plots worked together well to lead to an acceptable ending that didn't make you feel cheated. I remember thinking at one point that there was no way they could create a happy ending to the film. The ending wasn't necessarily a happy ending, but it tied up loose ends, which I liked. The combination of strong dialogue, interesting plot lines and character development demonstrated strong writing by Joe Carnahan and Gavin O'Connor.

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