When Joe Carnahan’s name pops up in the opening credits, you know you’re in for a rough time. Mr. Carnahan’s “Narc” was an unrelentingly bleak look at the world of undercover narcotics work, while “Smokin’ Aces” took a campy tack with the sadistic violence dealt out by a gang of hired killers.
I’ll let you guess what “Blood, Guts, Bullets and Octane” was about.
Mr. Carnahan co-wrote “Pride and Glory” with Gavin O’Connor, who also directed. It feels like a Carnahan film: Corrupt cops are everywhere; family lives tend toward instability when they’re not broken outright; the hoods they bump up against are decidedly generic and interchangeable; no one is to be trusted; the violence is protracted and brutal.
“Pride and Glory” focuses on the Tierney clan, a multigenerational band of police officers. There’s Ray (Edward Norton), the sensitive youngest son, who regrets a shady action in his past that was covered up by Francis Jr. (Noah Emmerich), now a precinct commander. Their father is Francis Sr. (Jon Voight), an old-school chief.
Married into the clan is Jimmy Egan (Colin Farrell), a hard-edged cop willing to get his hands dirty for an illicit buck or two. He and his crew have been doing odd jobs for gangsters on the quiet.
At least, it was quiet until four of his guys wound up in the morgue after a hit gone bad. As the evidence against Jimmy and his co-conspirators mounts, so does the body count of low-level hoods and the lengths to which the guilty cops will go to keep the truth quiet.
“Pride and Glory” takes a dim view of police and their world; in the universe of Mr. Carnahan and Mr. O’Connor, the only justice meted out to cops is that delivered by a bloodthirsty lynch mob. Police protect their own, even when “their own” comprises scum buckets capable of torturing a newborn to get information out of the child’s father. The only people who seem to get punished are those with a conscience.
The movie takes on one or two extraneous side plots it could do without — a subplot about a reporter hot on the trail of the crooked cops, for example — but otherwise stays pretty tightly focused on the Tierney family and their troubles. Mr. Voight is good as the airy, slightly out of it patriarch, and Mr. Farrell always plays a great bad boy. Mr. Norton plays Ray with a weary self-righteousness as a man who knows what should be done but doesn’t quite want to do it.
Other than an excess of hard-core brutality, “Pride and Glory” doesn’t add anything to the generic crooked-cop procedural that we haven’t seen with more verve in better movies, including “L.A. Confidential” or “Training Day” or even this spring’s “Street Kings.” Yet it brings no discredit on the genre either. If you enjoyed those flicks, you’ll probably like this one, too.
TITLE: “Pride and Glory”
RATING: R (Strong violence, pervasive language and brief drug content)
CREDITS: Written by Joe Carnahan and Gavin O’Connor
RUNNING TIME: 125 minutes
WEB SITE: https://www.prideandglorymovie.com/
MAXIMUM RATING: FOUR STARS