by MARYANN JOHANSON & r & & r & & lt;span class= "dropcap " & W & lt;/span & ell, this is refreshing. In a world where we're all used to movie trailers that begin with "In a world where..." and then go on to reveal the entire plot for us, it turns out that the trailer for Pride and Glory does not, in fact, do that, even though it looks as if it does. Colin Farrell is the Dirty Cop? Why'd they tell us that right in the damn trailer? Haven't they ruined the entire movie for us now?

Nope. Not at all. Because Pride and Glory isn't a whodunnit, it's a why'd-they-do-it and a how're-they-gonna-fix-it (or maybe a can-it-be-fixed-at-all). We learn in the opening minutes of Pride that Farrell's Jimmy Egan is a nasty piece of work, a thoroughly corrupt uniformed member of the NYPD. It's a wonderful cinematic pleasure to see Farrell continue to astonish us with the breathtaking scope of his talent for creating fiercely emotional characters, even when they're borderline crazy.

And we know right from the opening moments of the film that Edward Norton's Ray Tierney -- Jimmy Egan's brother-in-law -- is all tore up over some unspoken-of past incident in which he was forced to abandon his principles as a human being and as a cop. He's determined not to let himself get into a similar situation again. He has left the glamorous fast track of the NYPD (the major-case division, such as it is) and he's now toiling instead in the missing-persons unit.

Until now. Four officers are killed in a bizarre shootout in Washington Heights, and the chief of detectives (played by Jon Voight) convinces Ray to come back to lead the investigation and, you know, protect the interests of all involved. Which forces Ray to decide which bonds of loyalty is strongest: the one to his fellow cops, or to his family, or to the truth?

& lt;span class= "dropcap " & D & lt;/span & irector Gavin O'Connor -- the son of an NYPD officer -- has captured down-to-earth honesty here. (O'Connor wrote the script with his brother, Gregory, and with retired cop Robert Hopes and filmmaker Joe Carnahan.) Pride and Glory is honest not just in how it treats the world of its setting but also in how it treats its audience. It expects that you will be able to keep up with a fast-moving plot that's more about the internal motivations of the characters than it is about who's-doing-what-now. It expects that you don't need absolutely everything spelled out for you, and that you won't panic if it throws some untranslated and uncaptioned Spanish at you. It expects that you don't need to be manipulated to feel something.

See, there's nothing sentimental here that pretends there's one right answer to Ray's dilemma. The lack of schmaltz is especially welcome since the story takes place at Christmastime, with all the potential for mawkishess that implies. At the same time, there's nothing snarky here that pretends it's all just a joke, that the only way you might be able to handle matters of such intensity is by laughing at them, or that these aren't real matters of life and death. Good people of all stripes get pushed into corners when allegiances fail to coincide. That's the psychological reality of Pride and Glory. This isn't a cop movie; it's a people movie, set against the immediacy and passion of the cop world.

There's no doubt that there's something right up-to-the-moment about seeing two of Generation X's finest actors square off against each other onscreen: Norton is a coolly intelligent foil to Farrell's explosiveness. But there's something wonderfully old-fashioned, too, about Pride and Glory's sincerity and candidness and muscular integrity. It harkens back to a time when moviemaking wasn't seen as a game but as a calling.


Rated R

Directed by Gavin O'Connor

Starring Colin Farrell, Edward Norton, Jon Voight, Noah Emmerich

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