If it weren't for the presence of Edward Norton, Colin Farrell, and Jon Voight in lead roles, it would be easy to mistake Pride And Glory for a rejected cop show pilot. A hackneyed, clichéd muddle about a good cop torn between his responsibilities to his family and his duty to uphold the law no matter the consequences, Pride And Glory would have felt second-hand and overly familiar even if it were greenlit in 1937 as a vehicle for Humphrey Bogart and Edward G. Robinson.
In a rare forgettable performance, Norton stifles his charisma and coiled intensity as the black sheep scion of a prominent family of cops led by boozy patriarch Jon Voight. Norton has the smarts and connections to go far in the police department, but his sense of ethics and fair play keep him from progressing professionally. Norton's troubled relationship with his colleagues grows even more strained when he investigates the murder of police officers and uncovers an epidemic of corrupt, murderous, drug-dealing cops led by hotheaded brother-in-law Colin Farrell. It's Serpico For Dummies as Norton takes a bold stand against his dirty brothers in blue.
Pride And Glory feels laughably over-the-top well before Farrell illustrates his character's growing desperation and non-existent moral code by threatening to take a scalding hot iron to a baby's face. The film has exactly two equally unsatisfying modes: goofily melodramatic and perversely inert. Yet for all its shamelessness, Glory is too dull to work even as camp; at least Farrell's performance gives it some much-needed pulpy energy. The same can't be said of Norton, who sleepwalks blearily through the film. Norton is infamous for rewriting scripts and acting as a de facto director on his movies yet he seems lost and defeated here. Forget script polishing: Norton should have encouraged his colleagues to throw out the script completely and make a film that wasn't so reliant on mothballed clichés about family and honor, duty and friendship.