For the most part Pride and Glory is a raw examination of the world of cops and the conflict between loyalty towards family and friends, and doing what is right. The Tierney’s are a cop family, all of whom serve the New York City Police Department. There are the two brothers Francis Jr. (Noah Emmerich from Little Children and The Truman Show) and Ray Tierney (Edward Norton), brother in-law Jimmy Eagan (Colin Farrell) and patriarch Francis Sr. (Jon Voight), who is the Chief of Manhattan Detectives. They are a close family and loyal to their fellow officers. When four cops are killed during an ambush it touches all of them. The men had been under Francis Jr’s command and served along side Jimmy. At his father’s request Ray is urged to lead the task force investigating the incident but by doing so Ray finds that his brother and brother-in-law are implicated in the events surrounding the men’s deaths.
Director/writer Gavin O’Connor and his brother Gregory O’Connor, who produced and helped develop the original story, are the sons of a New York City cop and it was their intention to “examine the alternative universe” in which cops exist. In Pride and Glory they have mostly succeeded, as what is presented to the audience is a world of inner conflicts, violence, blurred moral boundaries and strong loyalties. Even more impressive is the way Pride and Glory captures the home life and family bonds between these men, contrasting their lives on the streets of New York to their lives at home.
Gavin O’Connor collaborated with Joe Carnahan on the final script and the end result contains many similarities to Narc, the cop drama that Carnahan wrote and directed in 2002. Both films present the tough, male camaraderie of police work. O’Connor also seems to have been visually influenced by Narc as Pride and Glory contains the same gritty and washed out look. The whole film appears to have been put through a blue filter and the frequent use of handheld cameras give many scenes a sense of real time urgency.
For the majority of its running time Pride and Glory is a gripping drama with great performances by Emmerich, Norton, Farrell and Voight, and all the supporting cast. However, just as it builds to what should have been a powerful resolution, it completely breaks down. Rather than following through on a number of plot lines, which are instead abandoned, Pride and Glory opts for an unconvincing dénouement that feels very hollow. It is not a complete write-off, but the disappointing ending makes the difference between Pride and Glory being an excellent film and a pretty good one.