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Heroes of the Zeroes: Pride & Glory

by on August 25, 2010
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Heroes of the Zeroes is Nick Rogers’ daily, alphabetical look back at the 365 best films of 2000-2009.

“Pride & Glory”
Rated R

There would seem to be little but gristle to choke down from bones of bad-cop movies. But 2008’s “Pride and Glory” found generous amounts of meat at which to voraciously tear — and didn’t need Handi-Wipes to clean up a necessarily ambiguous final course.

Detective-story devotees could see most, if not all, of the plot turns coming in this tale of an Irish-Catholic family of righteous, or rogue, New York policemen. However, as he did in “Miracle,” director Gavin O’Connor opted for serious drama over slick thrills. Practically sprinting at times with a handheld camera, “Pride” drew us down into these characters’ frantic clawing for penitence amid punishment.

Edward Norton is Ray, a cop still recovering from a badly botched bust who’s tasked by his father (Jon Voight) to investigate the death of four cops in an alleged drug sting. His investigation yields a lead that could unravel the entire clan, including his brother-in-law Jimmy (Colin Farrell, palpably psychotic and channeling the best of early Ray Liotta).

Relentlesly grim and appropriately abrasive, “Glory” offers a more compelling, less gimmicky portrayal of family implosion than “Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead.” Critical choices trump convenient circumstance in a script O’Connor co-wrote with Joe Carnahan (“Narc”).

“Pride” discovered beautiful compositions and contrasts amid its bleakness — especially a hard cut from a gunshot-wound spatter pattern to an entanglement of living kids’ limbs in a bed. In a way, it’s about blood to blood — done in a grandly overheated and legitimately, often stunningly tragic style.