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Dialogue nearly ruins ‘Pride and Glory’

POSTED: November 30, 2008 5:00 a.m.
/Warner Bros.

Colin Farrell, left, and Shea Whigham co-star in the New York City cop drama "Pride and Glory."

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"Pride and Glory" is a solid cop corruption yarn and a compelling family drama, if only you can wade through the macho noise that covers up its better qualities.

Two generations of the Tierney family are New York City cops. They put family first, with the police force a close second. But the killing of four cops initiates a chain of events that puts the Tierney family values to the test.

Ray Tierney (Edward Norton) has been away from active duty for two years, ever since a police scandal made him question the righteousness of the police force. His brother Francis (Noah Emmerich) is now a sergeant, and their brother-in-law Jimmy (Colin Farrell) is a beat cop who serves under Francis.

The murdered policemen were part of Jimmy’s unit, so Francis Tierney Sr. (Jon Voight), patriarch of the family and bigwig in the NYC police department, pushes Ray into helping with the investigation so he can protect his brothers.

When Ray discovers that the evidence points to corruption within Francis’ division, and specifically to Jimmy’s men, the investigation threatens to tear apart both the Tierney family and the police force to which they have devoted their entire lives.

This is ground well covered by the movies already, but it’s a promising scenario and cast nonetheless.

Unfortunately, much of the movie is utterly ruined by bad dialogue.

It isn’t even a sports movie, but five minutes in, "Pride and Glory" tosses off the most clichéd line in the sports movie genre. During a football game between New York and Detroit cops, Jimmy tells his teammates, "I love you guys." Only, in "Pride and Glory," it’s "I f!@#ing love youse guys."

That’s the tone of the first act. F-bombs and clichés are more abundant than Yellow Cabs. Farrell and Emmerich both sound like they’re doing bad impressions of Robert DeNiro in "Taxi Driver."

Long stretches of the opening are so bad I would have yanked the DVD out had I been watching it at home. I would blame no one for walking out of the theater. But alas, I am paid to stay until the end credits, regardless how bad the movie is.

In this case, I’m glad I stayed. Once Ray’s investigation begins, Norton and Voight rescue the movie. We also meet the rest of the Tierney family, and the film finally finds its stride.

Ironically for a movie crowded with macho leading men, "Pride and Glory" succeeds most when the women enter the scene. We see a handful of quiet, touching moments between these tough cops and the women who love them. That’s where the real drama of the story lies, and that’s when we get drawn into this world.

Even when we leap back into tough guy mode, the movie works better because now it all matters.

"Pride and Glory" takes a long, long time to show us the goods, but the final act does come through with some genuine surprises and weighty moments. If you are willing to tolerate the mess that is the first 30 minutes, the payoff is worthwhile.

Jeff Marker is a media studies professor at Gainesville State College.



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