We Own the Night My Reviews 26 JAN 2008

We Own the NightBrooklyn, New York, 1988. Bobby Green (Joaquin Phoenix) is a manager of the El Caribe nightclub – a man who breaks the rules and lives the fast life of the party. Joseph Grusinsky (Mark Wahlberg) is a highly honoured police captain in the New York Police Force – a man of principles and a stickler for the rules.

However, unbeknownst to most, these two polar opposites are in fact brothers, sons of the highly decorated Chief of Police, Burt Grusinsky (Robert Duval). Brooklyn at the moment is under siege, with drug cartels and gangsters slowly throttling the life out of the city. The police force is under tremendous pressure to produce results, particularly because so many of their numbers are being mowed down by criminals.

Joseph needs to organize a raid against a particular Russian mobster suspected of bringing drugs into the country. Unfortunately the only catch is that this mobster has ties to the El Caribe, and thus indirectly to Bobby. Unwillingly to listen to his brother and get out while he can, Bobby ends up getting dragged into the raid – with disastrous consequences.

However, it is the revenge hit on Joseph that turns things really nasty. Despite their differences and the fact that they don’t get on at all and would rather see each other destroyed, family bonds are not bonds that are easily broken and this loyalty is what drives Bobby to dive head first into the most dangerous of situations in order to catch the man behind his brother’s hit.

Nothing awaits the Grusinsky family but bloody tragedy – but this tragedy is indeed the crucible to bind a divided family even closer together!

We Own the Night is a 2007 crime/drama movie written and directed by James Gray (his third ever flick and surprise, surprise his third crime/drama). It stars Joaquin Phoenix, Mark Wahlberg, Eva Mendes and Robert Duvall.

The story is nice and gritty, and fairly simple to follow, with not to many big surprises or twists in the tale – just typical good cop/gangster drama that holds no punches and tells a story that even though it doesn’t emotionally attach to any of the characters or situations, does manage to capture your attention and keeps you engrossed for the duration of the movie. The main theme that runs strongly through this movie is that of family bonds and the indisputable fact that blood is thicker than water. It examines to just what length a person would go to look after their own, no matter the consequences or the danger that could stand in their way.

The movie starts off slowly enough and takes time to build up both sides of the family before rushing headlong into an action sequence that just continues to up the tension and the action for the rest of the story. – The camera work and the occasional use of monochromatic sequences and clever sound tricks enhances the more dramatic scenes and you are left with a very technically adept movie that looks good and feels polished.

Seasoned actors Joaquin Phoenix and Mark Wahlberg give splendid performances though Joaquin without a doubt steals the show as Bobby. Eva Mendes isn’t half bad either and we get another solid performance from veteran actor Robert Duvall.

The soundtrack for We Own the Night contains a lot of 80’s music, so be warned. The opening sequences can be pretty tough going for anyone who despises that particular era’s sounds. The soundtrack for the movie is composed by Howard Shore, a veteran composer whose most notable works includes the music for The Silence of the Lambs, Mrs. Doubtfire, Philadelphia, Ed Wood, Se7en, Dogma, High Fidelity, Panic Room, The Departed and The Aviator, the last of which earned him a Golden Globe. He is also the man behind the music for the highly successful Lord of the Rings trilogy.

We Own the Night turns out to be a very competent, well-executed and straight forward crime drama that is thoroughly gritty and engrossing and is sure to entertain you, even if isn’t necessarily your most favourite of genres. It has some good and gritty action sequences, plenty of drama and one or two clever little surprises in store for you, but at the heart of it all it follows a pretty much tried and tested formula and therefore won’t disappoint any fans of the genre.

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Related Link: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0498399/

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About Craig Lotter

South African software architect and developer at Touchwork. Husband to a cupcake baker and father to two little girls. I don't have time for myself any more.