A Cold Winter of the Soulby Bryce VanKooten
I’m never far from a mental shutoff. Sadly, it only takes one corny line of dialogue or an ill-timed rant to turn my eyes from the scene to screen. I wish it weren’t this way, but I’m still fairly fresh to the movie scene — it’s taken me three tries to get through Citizen Kane and after try number two, a friend spoiled it for me, so I’m still a bit reluctant to finish it. I went to an early screening of Pride and Glory with a sneaky thought in the back of my head: Just another cop drama. I spoke with my friend before the film and prefaced, “I really like (Edward) Norton, so I’ll see it — just like I’ll see anything Tom Cruise is in – but I hope this isn’t like the rest of ‘em. I hope they don’t get lazy on us and just keep asking us who done it…”
The movie begins with a glorious scene – a football game in upper New York – striking each hit with interweaving subtleties of the opening credits. The cold holiday season had come upon me full force and the silence left ample space for the clashing of bodies and poignant opening dialogue. It’s NYPD vs. Detroit Metro and the NYPD has the easy edge; they have Jimmy Egan. Jimmy, played by Colin Farrell, leads to football team as well as his men (as sergeant) in the local 31st Division and hits just about anything that moves – on duty or not — in this twisted, rage of a film. Jimmy has a certain way of doing things. He’s married into a long line of cops, all members of the same division: Francis Tierney, Sr. (Jon Voight), Francis Teirney, Jr (Noah Emmerich) and Ray Teirney (Edward Norton). Hard work is not something given out, but a choice made daily, a choice the whole family subscribes to. The same goes for integrity.
Jimmy’s final tackle of the game is met with a phone call – four police officers shot and killed – and it is from the outset that we begin the manhunt for their murderer. Ray, his daunting past behind him, his marriage in shambles, is enlisted by his father (against his will) to serve on the Taskforce Team and assist with the investigation into the murders. The search begins and the facts are followed. Its from this outset that the movie picks up and seldom slows down.
Pride and Glory has a wonderful feel to it. Its ‘slow and steady wins the race’ above ‘fast paced wins the audience’. Sitting there in my own chair I couldn’t help but notice the focus that went into the story. Simply, it really wasn’t that thick? There isn’t a double-cross to speak of, let alone a mastermind. What a wonderful change from the standard cop script! The eloquent style of director Gavin O’Conner shows real attention to detail and don’t worry, Gavin, I got it: nearly half the film was shot using mirror, a subtle gesture that every action is a reflection on yourself and everyone you love – nice touch, very neat.
Without spoiling anything for anyone, I can’t help but point out the perfect, dramatic balance beam that the script managed to mount. Far too often, Hollywood is concerned with making a buck as opposed to making a movie that will make a buck. I can’t say I blame them (a guaranteed buck is better than a buck by itself), but I can complain in resistance. I’m not sure that there is much need for a PG-13 rated, hard drugs crime movie any longer. To be frank, is that the world we live in? In a land where lies reign and addiction run perverse through the streets, is there room for such a tapered reality? Pride and Glory rides the line perfectly. It portrays evil for what it is – whether gangster or cop. It shows lies on both sides and revenge in light of the dark spiral it promotes.
It’s not often that we’re able to find the line between rough and redeemed, but Pride and Glory makes a giant leap in the right direction. There are a few scenes not worth missing – the baby and the iron (which I’m sure you’ve heard about so far) as well as a ruckus (and altogether hilarious) table speech from Teirney, Sr. Its not Norton’s best work, nor is it Voight’s or Farrell’s, but be that as it may, Pride and Glory is not another cop drama. It’s not another NYPD murder mess. It is a graceful approach towards truth and justice, family and legacy, in hopes of bringing principles back to the big screen.