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Wed October 22, 2008
Pride and Glory
By John DeSando, WCBE's "It's Movie Time"
"You don't become a cop because you want to serve and protect. You join the force because they let you carry a gun and a badge. You do it because you get respect." Turk (Robert De Niro) in Righteous Kill
Italians and cops both demand respect, so I'll award Pride and Glory a grade of C out of respect for the two principal actors, Edward Norton and Colin Farrell, both at the head of the 30-something contemporary film actors class. Otherwise, this D-deserving good cop, bad cop thriller should be tossed into the clich? dustbin or given a prominent place in the violence-without-wit hall of fame.
Having just seen their elderly counterparts, Robert De Niro and Al Pacino, in the almost as witless good-cop, bad-cop Righteous Kill, I am once again amazed at how star power can propel mediocrity from the drawing room to the screen.
In Pride and Glory, Ray Tierney (Norton) and Jimmy Egan (Farrell) are brothers-in-law whose Tierney family has a retired police chief father Francis Tierney, Sr., (Jon Voight) and his other son Frances Jr. (Noah Emmerich), another ranking cop in the New York Police Department. Whew, I'm done with the lineage although it is, as my editor, Patricia, comments, the most interesting aspect of a film with unrelenting violence that could have been sacrificed to more family drama.
Greek tragedy it is not: This family has no tragic flaw other than simple-minded greed, no blind ambition other than messing with street low-lives. As a multi-generational saga, it is soap opera at best. When straight arrow Ray faces family involvement in murder, the script is not Sophocles:
Ray Tierney: What do you think is going to happen here? Do you think we're going to go in the basement with papa and smooth things over?
Jimmy Egan: All you've gotta do is say what needs to be said. End of story.
It's prosaic stuff, heavy on patter and guns, light on reflection and insight. Plenty of time on pistol whipping and the ubiquitous "f" word. In a family of four volatile cops, you'd think the drama would demand probing analysis beyond blaming Dad's zeal for the force and a legacy, neither explored satisfactorily.
I heard this film has been sitting on the shelf for a while and that Mark Wahlberg, Hugh Jackman, and Nick Nolte were scheduled to star as long ago as 2001. This trivia and the changes wrought by 9/11 on the heroic profile of the NYPD suggest a troubled provenance. It shows.
John DeSando teaches film at Franklin University and co-hosts WCBE 90.5's It's Movie Time, which can be heard streaming at http://publicbroadcasting.net/wcbe/ppr/index.shtml at 3:01 pm and 8:01 pm and on demand anytime at http://www.publicbroadcasting.net/wcbe/arts.artsmain Contact him at JDeSando@Columbus.RR.com