Heroes of the Zeroes is Nick Rogers’ daily, alphabetical look back at the 365 best films of 2000 to 2009.
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.