Clan of Badgers Caught in Own Crossfire

    {grate 2.5}

    Pride and Glory

    Starring Colin Farrell, Edward Norton and Jon Voigt

    Directed by Gavin O’Connor

    Rated R

    Dirty cops are common folk in Batman comics, pulp-fiction paperbacks and every Joe Carnahan (“Smokin’ Aces,” “Narc”) script ever penned. With an eHarmony profile that undoubtedly lists his interests as firearms, witty zingers, “fuck” as a noun/adjective/verb and copious amounts of red dye waiting to be sprayed across windows as his “Interests,” Carnahan’s one-trick-pony salesmanship catches the eye of Director Gavin O’Connor in his latest homage to New York’s Finest.

    A film plagued by innumerable studio setbacks since its insemination back in 2001, “Pride and Glory” finally arrives — fashionably late — with a lackluster mainstream makeover. Conceived as an arthouse under the title “Manhattan North,” producers panicked, underestimating the blockbuster stronghold of “High School Musical 3” and plethora of Halloween commodities.

    Despite the fact that its final title sounds like a Nazi propaganda picture, “Glory” crawls the narcotics bazaar of New York’s inner-city, host to Rodney King re-enactments and very few law-abiding men. However, guaranteed and gently pushed into police work by their father’s saintly legacy, Franny (Noah Emmerich), Ray (Edward Norton) and Jimmy (Colin Farrell) honor the Tierney family name with their dedicated service to the state and loyalty to the values that begin in the home.

    With Francis Sr. (Jon Voight) as the clan’s sage patriarch and city’s former Police Chief, the NYPD Tierney coat-of-arms becomes an aegis for political asylum by the time their father is promoted out of the precinct. And although eldest brother Franny tries to fill his father’s boots by taking up his managerial duties, no one thinks they have to play by the rules when their brother’s the referee. So when the semiautomatic slaughter of four cops is found trailing back to the family’s front door, Ray’s investigation quickly uncovers more dirt than can be swept under the living-room rug.

    Cutting out corruption before it spreads with the etiquette of a field surgeon, the brothers procrastinate turning on one another. And aggravated by the New York Post’s mudracking headline news, the demise that ensues only escalates heated tempers, drug market synergies and 10-gauge Tylenol remedies.

    Boasting an indictment of New York’s corrupt police politics and belligerent racial tensions Tom Wolfe would be proud of, camera work capturing the city’s urban milieu packs shot-by-shot frames with claustrophobic mise en scene. Director of photography Declan Quinn puts into effect the dense and austere shades of a prison-gray palette, cramming fire escapes and chain-link fences into shots with more layers than a shingled roof. Even when the trite cop-out of close-ups and chase scenes on cameras that jangle like key chains lead the first half-hour, the coarse texture that follows pulls it from its rut.

    Keeping close to the chime of N.Y.’s asphalt jungle, the slang and machismo rubbed into the story gets old trying to be young faster than you’d think.

    Although all three manage to pull off their lines with believable Irish accents (despite other second-rate Latino actors) the gun-drawn clashes between plainclothes cops and unarmed thugs oversaturates too many scenes in vulgar banter. Accompanied by grotesque tactics of coercion with household appliances and censured shadowing, the Grand Theft Auto appeal sullies any attempts at festival aspirations. Eventually succumbing to St. Patrick’s Day fist-fights and 7-Eleven hostage hysterics, the controlled momentum that kept tension unravels into sensationalized violence by the film’s frantic end.

    While Peter Travis will undoubtedly bless Carnahan’s movie posters with kind words (as he does for nearly every one of his films), “Pride and Glory” lacks the igneous cut and clarity Scorsese refined in his mean street slicks. Characters lack depth, personality and, above all else believable emotions. Even if Scorsese sometimes sacrifices the realism of characters for the personification of principles, they exist outside of the film’s shitty situation.

    When papa cop remarks to Ray that it’s the nature of all things to leak (with the subtlety of J.K. Rowling) we’re supposed to remember those lines and somehow wonder at the film’s ability to weave such narrative techniques when leaks burst into floods. Instead, O’Connor takes a family doomed to fall apart, and inserting a camera midway, expects the audience to marvel at the razed collapse of a condemned house.

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