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“Pride and Glory” is only the latest in a long line of dirty cop movies, distinguished by one hell of a talented cast. That sword's got a second edge, though — that remarkable cast is so wasted on this story that what would have otherwise been an unremarkable movie becomes a colossal disappointment.
The story's standard fare: A big shoot-out with a drug dealer ends with four cops dead. The police launch a full investigation with a special task force to hunt down the cop killer, headed by a reluctant genius detective (Edward Norton) with a mysterious past and a scarred face. The more the genius cop works the case, the deeper he gets into a criminal conspiracy involving corrupt policemen.
Those cops, led by brash Jimmy Egan (Colin Farrell), have been robbing dealers of their cash and drugs and wholesaling the product to another dealer with whom they have an under-the-table arrangement. Norton has every reason in the world to go after Egan and his partners, except for one problem: Egan's his brother-in-law, and Egan's sergeant is his brother. If the truth comes out, their family could be torn apart.
That's the twist intended to separate this good-cop-bad-cop flick from the rest of the pack, and it's a suitably dramatic one, though not strong or original enough to do the job. The story's solid and told well enough, but it's strictly a B-minus effort, neither bad nor notably good.
Bonus points for acting — everyone here turns in good performances, even Jon Voight, whom I've always regarded as a very uneven actor prone to taking on bad roles in questionable movies. But the story is at times too earnest and melodramatic, except at the film's climax, which doesn't seem that critical.
I'll freely admit my judgment here could have been clouded by the cell phone-happy Statler and Waldorf two rows up (seriously, who raised you people?), but even in those blissful moments where they managed to shut up for half an hour at a stretch, I found myself not so much in the story as watching a dissection of it. Even its attempt at a poetically violent ending seems contrived and hollow, and then everything concludes with a “yep, that happened.”
It's the sort of film that will be on TNT five years from now, and you'll think, “Oh yeah, Ed Norton was in that, I forgot about that.” And maybe you'll watch, if there's nothing else on. Trust me, go rent DVDs of “The Wire” instead.