Pride and Glory

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Toronto International Film Festival

TORONTO -- That sturdy Hollywood institution known as the corrupt cop picture has been stripped right down to the studs -- both technically and emotionally -- with "Pride and Glory," a gritty, bare-knuckled take on a clan of New York's finest who have definitely seen finer days.

Directed by Gavin O'Connor ("Miracle") from a script he co-wrote with Joe Carnahan ("Narc"), the stark drama harkens back to Sidney Lumet classics like "Serpico" and "Prince of the City"-filmmaking that went after an unadorned, jagged realism, with acting to match.

Here, a top-notch cast including Edward Norton, Colin Farrell and Jon Voight really get the job done, with spare, tough/tender performances that rank among their best work.

While the raw results can make for demanding viewing, the Warner Bros. release of a New Line film is well-placed among the fall season's more serious, adult-skewing contenders.

When four New York cops are killed in what would initially appear to be a botched drug bust, Chief of Manhattan Detectives Francis Tierney, Sr. (Voight) talks his reluctant son, Ray (Norton) into leading the investigation.

But as he gathers evidence, the probe into the lives of his fellow NYPD officers ends up bringing him uncomfortably close to home, especially where his once-in-control, big brother, Francis, Jr. (Noah Emmerich) and hot-headed brother-in-law, Jimmy (Colin Farrell) are concerned.

O'Connor keeps an effectively firm grip on the material-and while that script he co-wrote with Carnahan touches on familiar territory, his actors lend those time-honored themes of honor and loyalty a spark of vitality.

Of course, it's difficult to hide behind technique when you're under the constant scrutiny of gifted cinematographer Declan Quinn's camera lens, but all concerned keep it raw and real.

Although the father-son focus doesn't leave much room for female characters of any memorable substance, Jennifer Ehle affectingly cuts through all that testosterone as the embattled Emmerich's wife, Abby, who's losing a fight of her own against cancer.

Opens: Friday, October 24 (Warner Bros.)
Production companies: New Line Cinema, Solaris Entertainment, O'Connor Brothers Prods.
Cast: Edward Norton, Colin Farrell, Jon Voight, Noah Emmerich
Director: Gavin O'Connor
Screenwriters: Joe Carnahan, Gavin O'Connor
Executive producers: Toby Emmerich, Cale Boyter, Marcus Viscidi
Producer: Gregory O'Connor
Director of photography: Declan Quinn
Production designer: Dan Leigh
Music: Mark Isham
Costume designer: Abigail Murray
Editors: Lisa Zeno Churgin, John Gilroy
Sales Agent: New Line International
Rated R, 125 minutes.

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