Saturday, Oct. 25, 2008

Little Pride, No Glory

By David Luhrssen
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The nighttime football game at the start of Pride and Glory, a contest between aggressive amateurs on a frozen gridiron, sets the wintry tone and suggests the theme. Teams are everything, embracing the families of players lining the stands shouting �Defense! Defense!� Pride and Glory is about teamwork and its abuse, family ties and the game of defense. The movie is set around an NYPD precinct at Christmas, a time when the sun hides in the gloom above a city cold and dark despite the strings of holiday lights.

Pride and Glory is a movie with a set of interesting or potentially interesting characters whose shoes are mostly filled with solid actors. Red nosed Jon Voigt brings whiskey-sodden dignity to Francis Tierney, Sr., veteran detective and family patriarch whose son-in-law and two sons followed him into the department. Edward Norton is introspective as the good cop son, Ray, even if Noah Emmerich is a bit nondescript as the son who compromised by closing his eyes to the transgressions around him. Son-in-law Jimmy (Colin Farrell), the bad seed that blew into the family garden, commands a squad of criminals in blue who rob stores, shake down drug dealers and executive anyone in their way. When four cops from their precinct are caught in the crosshairs of their scheme and die, Ray reluctantly leads the investigation. The trail soon enough doubles back into his own family.

Or maybe not soon enough. Pride and Glory never reaches the level of its cast or the potential of its synopsis. The story rambles and sputters, gaining momentum at the half way mark only to lose steam with alarming speed. The testosterone dialogue, �fuck� at every third word even with family children in earshot, sounds like dumbed-down David Mamet. There will be blood. Lots of it. The cinematography is ugly, dank and digital�kind of like film noir without the film. With its undercooked sub-themes designed to flesh out sketchy characters, the plot seems copied and pasted from some online screenplay-writing manual, downloaded for a minimum charge.

Are there good scenes? One or two, enough to prove that even the most worn-out formula in the most uninspired hands can still produce sparks if not much heat.

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