What if your own family stood in the way of everything you worked for? Bobby Green (Joaquin Phoenix) has forsaken his name to escape his family and their tradition in law enforcement to pursue his ambitions as a Brooklyn n... more »ightclub owner. As he turns a blind eye to the drug dealers around him, he comes face to face with the family he abandoned when his brother (Mark Wahlberg) and father (Robert Duvall) crack down on the club. Now Bobby must choose a side. Is he going to turn informant or will he help run the biggest crime ring in New York history?« less
Grady Harp | Los Angeles, CA United States | 02/14/2008
(3 out of 5 stars)
"WE OWN THE NIGHT is the quote from the lower portion of the badge on the uniforms of NYPD police family Deputy Chief Bert Grusinsky (Robert Duvall) and one of his two sons Capt. Joe Grusinsky (Mark Wahlberg): the other son Bobby (Joaquin Phoenix) did not follow the family tradition of police work but instead is involved in nightclubs - and yes there is a schism of resentment. Bobby has distanced himself further from his family by changing his last name to 'Green', living with a Puerto Rican girl Amada (Eva Mendes), and bonding to a wealthy Russian family who owns the nightclub where Bobby works - a front for a drug dealing business. Writer/Director James Gray ('The Yards' and 'Little Odessa') has a feel for this underbelly of New York City and captures the 1988 mood of life in the city and beneath the city with style. The problem with the story is that it has been done so many times that it is simply stale yesterday's lunch. Two brothers at opposite end of the family spectrum require a major tragedy to bring them together, and to offer any more information to this fairly thin plot would be a disservice to those who plan to see the film.
The cast is strong, partly because each of them has played similar roles countless times and have the ideas down pat. It should be noted that two of the producers of the film are Mark Wahlberg and Joaquin Phoenix, probably a reason the film was made... There are some exciting moments and enough surprises and tense times to keep the adrenaline rolling, the smaller roles are very well cast, and one of the shining attributes of the film is the gorgeous Russian liturgy inspired musical score by Wojciech Kilar. It is not a bad film; it is just too much in the same mold as countless other New York police dramas. Grady Harp, February 08"
Both sides think they own the night
H. Schneider | window seat | 07/19/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The film is covering well known territory, and it doesn't bring totally new aspects into it. Just a normal "New York cops versus gangsters" flick, imagine a cross of the Departed and Eastern Promises. We all know that in the 90s, Mr.Giuliani singlehandedly and famously cleaned up NYC (unless it really happened differently, eg via the mechanisms mentioned in Freakonomics). Before his magic touch saved the city, it appears that NY cops were the laughing stock of the streets. Gangsters were in control, it seems. What we have here, set in 88, is a confrontation between a Russian drug ring and the cops, among whom the father and son team Duvall/Wahlberg is prominent. They have a prodigal son/brother (Phoenix), who happens to work as a night club manager for the Russians and has a Latina girl friend (Mendes). You see right away where this is leading, but then, no, you don't quite. The script succeeds in avoiding overdone predictability. With hindsight, no big surprise happens, but you never quite know how it will unfold. In other words, if you like the genre, this is a first class product. Some have given low grades here for the fact that it is not original. True, it isn't very. But I would rather watch a solid movie in a proven and interesting genre than an original bore in a new one. "
Not so Hot
Ron | Jersey | 02/13/2008
(3 out of 5 stars)
"With a cast like Joaquin Phoenix, Eva Mendes, Mark Wahlberg, and Robert Duvall I was really expecting more from this picture. The storyline of two brothers on opposite sides of the law has been done so much better before. Joaquin puts in a good performance. Wahlberg plays the same kind of pissed off character he always does. Eva does the best with what she had. Her role consists of rolling around on a bed most of the movie and looking sexy. Duvall doesn't get that much screen time, but he is solid. The movie is very uneven and has some pretty big gaps in logic. It is entertaining to a point, but don't expect a really terrific movie."
Interesting plot and fine Joaquin Phoenix performance
Roland E. Zwick | Valencia, Ca USA | 11/04/2007
(3 out of 5 stars)
Taking its title from the motto engraved on all NYPD officers' badges, "We Own the Night" is essentially the Prodigal Son story transplanted to the mean, crime-ridden streets of New York City. Robert Duvall is Burt Grusinsky, a high ranking police chief with two sons, one "good" and the other "bad." Joseph has eagerly followed in his father's footsteps by becoming a captain on the force, while Bobby wants nothing whatsoever to do with the police and, in fact, spends much of his time running around with the unsavory drug dealers who frequent the lucrative nightclub he successfully manages. It isn't until one of those associates has Joseph shot after a narcotics raid on the club that Bobby learns where his true loyalties lie. He agrees to go undercover for the force to unmask the identity of the shooter and bring down the Russian drug cartel that set Joseph up.
At times, while watching the movie, I kept thinking that writer/director James Gray had simply grafted the Michael Corleone story onto "The Departed." Still, despite its derivative nature, "We Own the Night" is a tightly scripted, occasionally ingenious police procedural featuring a riveting, knockout performance by Joaquin Phoenix in the role of Bobby. He gets solid support from Duval, Mark Wahlberg as Joseph, and Eva Mendes as the true love who doesn't feel all that comfortable with Bobby's sudden fascination with helping out the police.
Gray provides a number of highly suspenseful moments, as well as a terrifically mounted car chase through the rain-soaked streets of the city. The sound is also unusually effective, creating an often surrealistic sense of dislocation at crucial dramatic moments (though the Blondie-inspired soundtrack is slightly anachronistic for 1988, the year in which the story is set).
Bobby's conversion from lawbreaker to law enforcer is not always entirely convincing and we are often forced to accept quite a bit on faith just to keep the story rolling. In the long run, though, the polish and professionalism displayed on both sides of the camera ultimately lift the movie above its various imperfections."
prisrob | New EnglandUSA | 03/30/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
""Booed at the Cannes film festival (always a sign that a movie has good energy), James Gray's pulverizing crime drama is unafraid to put its passions right out where it's easy to mock them. We Own the Night is defiantly, refreshingly unhip." Peter Travers
A movie that does not have original material, but it works in spurts. The dark underworld of Russian crime- this is the group du jour of crime nowadays. The New York City Police Department who in the 1980's according to Roger Ebert used the 'We Own the Night" slogan of the New York police, painted on the sides of their squad cars as a promise to take back the night from the drug trade. Two members of the NYP- Robert Duval and Mark Wahlberg as father and son want to bring that drug trade down. The other brother, Joaquin Phoenix, for whatever reason, has become the manager of a club that caters to the drug crowd. At opposite ends, oh yes. Until, until, something big happens and the son Bobby Green turns to the side of the law. Eva Menedes does an admirable job playing Bobby's love interest, and this emotional tangle brings this film some real credibility.
The action in this film and in particular the car chase on a wet rainy night with fog so thick you can barely see is a raw knuckle event. The raw and grainy fear is palpable, and I can envision the fear and heart racing excitement.
"But this is an atmospheric, intense film, well acted, and when it's working it has a real urgency. Scenes where a protagonist is close to being unmasked almost always work. The complexity of Bobby's motives grows intriguing, and the concern of his girl friend Armada is well-used. "We Own the Night" may not solve the question of ownership, but it does explore who lives in the night, and why." Roger Ebert