Pride and Glory

The real mystery of “Pride and Glory,” Gavin O'Connor's new urban policier, is not whether or not there is corruption within the NYPD (that's revealed right after the first reel), but why would good actors, such as Colin Farrell, Jon Voight, and particularly Edward Norton be attracted to a clich?©', utterly familiar and predictable morality tale that Sidney Lumet has been doing for decades, and most recently was revisited by James Mangold in “Copland,” and by James Gray in “The Yards” and “We Own the Night,” to name only a few samplers.

What's even more perplexing is that director and screenwriter Gavin O'Connor and his twin brother producer Gregory O'Connor are the sons of a New York City cop, and as such are expected to bring fresh, insiders' insights into the personal and professional lives of police officers. Instead, they resort to a formulaic, two-generational movie about a family of cops. The answer may be in the collaboration with Joe Carnahan, a young director, who has done a disappointing policier (“Narc”) himself and is thus repeating himself, too.

“Pride and Glory” has been sitting on the shelves for over a year, and you can't blame New Line marketing for not knowing what to do with the picture, which world premiered at the Toronto Film Fest and will play in the Rome Fillm Fest before getting wide theatrical release by NewLine/Warner on October 24.

To be fair, O'Connor, who previous helmed the mother-0daughter melodrama “Tumbleweeds” (boasting an Oscar-nominated turn by Janet McTeer) and the inspirational sport film (“Miracle” with Dennis Quaid) is a good actor's director, and with the exception of one (Noah Emmerich, brother of Toby, New Line's production chief), all the performances in “Pride and Glory” are superb, from the leads down to the secondary parts, the bits and cameos.

Shot on location, in a gritty realistic style, “Pride and Glory” is well-crafted, but the story, the story! Can we stomach another yarn about two brothers, one good, one bad, dealing with conflicting loyalties and torn by their commitments to the family versus the police force, who find themselves on opposite sides of an incendiary corruption scandal in the New York City Police Department

It's a known fact that there's a good deal of occupation inheritance in the police force, namely that sons of cops become cops; the O'Connor are well aware of their deviation from the sociological trend.

The movie begins well for a murder mystery. In the first act, four New York City cops are found dead, killed in an ambush that has the entire police department on alert and on edge. With a cop killer on the loose and so much riding on the case, Chief of Manhattan Detectives Francis Tierney, Sr. (Jon Voight) asks his son, Detective Ray Tierney (Edward Norton), to lead the investigation.

Reluctantly Ray takes over the case knowing the cops who were lost had served under his brother, Francis Tierney, Jr. (Noah Emmerich), and alongside his brother-in-law, Jimmy Egan (Colin Farrell). On the surface, it looks like a routine drug bust gone terribly, tragically wrong.

But as Ray delves deeper into the case, he realizes someone had to have tipped off the drug dealers that the cops were coming. Someone on the inside is corrupt. Worse, the evidence starts to point in an unthinkable direction: to his own brother and brother-in-law.

As the questions mount, the case forces the family to choose between their loyalties to one another and their loyalties to the department. And thus, a series of confrontations scenes follow, between Francis pere and Francis films, between Francis pere and son Ray, between Ray and Francis Jr. between Francis and Jimmy.

This is very much a man's world and a man's film, and the screenplay, by Joe Carnahan and Gavin O'Connor, based on a story by Gavin and Gregory O'Connor and NYPD Detective Robert Hopes (who served as consultant), again follows conventions by relegating the women to the periphery. And yet, looking back, the domestic scenes are far more emotionally gripping and original than the main plot perse, which leaves nothing for the audience, always ahead of the filmmakers and their characters, to sit and nod with their heads in agreement all the way to the film's logical but predictable closure.

The film's strongest scenes involve the femmes and family gatherings. As Abby Tierney, Francis's terminally ill wife and mother of their young children, Jennifer Ehle is truly heartbreaking. Her illness turns out to be not only a crucible but also a catalyst for directing her husband in the right direction. Though she has cancer (she's already bold) and is in the last stage of her life, Abbey is the saga's strongest and most grounded character, knowing the difference between right and wrong.

Similarly, as Jimmy Egan's wife Megan, Lake Bell excels in showing the growing awareness of a femme that was initially left in the dark. Megan is a woman who has no idea of the depth of her husband's involvement in the police department scandal that is making headlines and driving a wedge between her brothers and her husband. But as the situation deteriorates, she can't help but become aware, and ultimately, like Abbey, she represents for Jimmy the ultimate consequences of his actions. While Jimmy prides himself on being a wonderful husband and father, but he's starting to realize that what he's done could cost him his wife and children.

The rest of the ensemble is equally impressive, including John Ortiz, Frank Grillo, and Shea Whigham as, respectively, Ruben Santiago, Eddie Carbone and Kenny Dugan, three cops who, together with Jimmy Egan, have been working both sides of the law. Manny Perez plays Coco Dominguez, who, unfortunately for him, is holding information Jimmy wants and will do anything to get. Ramon Rodriguez plays Angel Tezo, a drug dealer and cop killer who is the target of a citywide manhunt, and Rick Gonzalez is Eladio Casado, a rival drug dealer, who is using the cops as much as they are using him.