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We Own the Night: Hardly New York's Finest

We Own the Night: Hardly New York's Finest

I wandered into We Own the Night expecting stellar performances that would rescue an otherwise so-so movie. And though the movie was definitely so-so (really, a few notches below), I can't blame the actors. After all, the script — riddled with clichés and sorely lacking any dramatic tension — didn't give the typically talented performers anything to work with.

Set in late '80s Brooklyn and Queens, We Own the Night stars Joaquin Phoenix as Bobby Green, the manager of a wildly popular mega-club. His real name is Grusinsky, and his dad, Burt (Robert Duvall), and brother Joseph (Mark Wahlberg) are devoted servants of the NYPD. But taking up his mother's maiden name keeps Bobby's background from interfering with his hobbies, such as recreational cocaine use and hanging with his hot girlfriend, Amada (Eva Mendes).

But guess what? Dad and Joseph are investigating a drug ring run by a Russian mobster who frequents Bobby's club, and they want Bobby to help smoke him out. The plot reads vaguely like The Departed, but the similarities end there, so

Bobby has no interest in being a rat, until his brother is shot and injured by the mobsters. Then he decides to go undercover to capture the bad guy, and the action unfolds from there.

Unlike The Departed and many other gripping police dramas, We Own the Night is neither gripping nor dramatic. The familial bonds that are supposedly so central to the story are hardly felt, since we learn very little about the characters or their motivations. The plot progresses in a very predictable arc, and for anyone who doesn't find it predictable, there is a lot of obvious foreshadowing to help us along.

Mostly, the movie, though unconventional, is disappointingly dull; it feels like an amateur filmmaker trying to make a serious movie. Thankfully, a few elements rise above mediocrity: Director James Gray does an excellent job of visually capturing the bleak but indulgent mood of the New York drug scene in 1988, and a climactic car-chase scene through the blinding rain is expertly crafted. Otherwise, We Own the Night comes dangerously close to made-for-TV fare.

Photos courtesy of Sony Pictures

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Join The Conversation
ElleJay ElleJay 8 years
yup, I liked this movie too !
hiedi hiedi 8 years
I saw this movie this weekend also, and I really liked it! I though Joaquin was amazing as always. It was great! Not the best movies I've ever seen or anything, or even the best Joaquin performance, but still... I'm holding out hope for Reservation Road next weekend!
Cymone Cymone 8 years
i just saw this and loved it! contrary to buzz i thought it WAS gripping and dramatic. i DID feel the family bonds from father to son and brother to brother... especially in the church scene, even before bobby risks his life, the father says "be careful" as bobby jumps over the banister. idk i think i caught all of the emotion the film was trying to convey... sorry buzz i don't agree with you!
amandabuchanan amandabuchanan 8 years
i agree erin... I loved this movie... i liked it better than the departed. (shh...don't tell my fiance!) joaquin is my fav!
Erin214 Erin214 8 years
i just saw it and liked it. And i would have been pissed if I read this review before I saw it. You have a lot of spoilers in there. It's worth seeing. Joaquin gives a sick performance, as usual. And Eva looks hot.
figurine figurine 8 years
I've been thinking that the title sounds like the one of a cheesy dance movie. I really have no desire to see one.
i want to see this. i LOVE joaquin... i dont know about eva in a serious role though
SoftRockStar SoftRockStar 8 years
Aww, too bad. It looked like it had the potential to be really good. But really? 1980s? The trailers didn't do a good job of showing this.
ElleJay ElleJay 8 years
i'll still go see it. everyones take on it isn't going to be the same.
UrbanBohemian UrbanBohemian 8 years
For some reason, I don't feel impressed about this movie. I don't think it's the cast's fault; I guess it might be the material.
Orangecrush43 Orangecrush43 8 years
I want to see this movie,looks really good
workinggirl83 workinggirl83 8 years
Aww man, I love Mark Wahlberg but I guess I will save my money.
chatnoir chatnoir 8 years
I was going to go this weekend. I guess I'll just get it from Netflix later. Thanks!
Zahara-Pitt Zahara-Pitt 8 years
so it sucked, i guess i'll be going to be beach this weekend
pinkflats pinkflats 8 years
oh wow, i expected the film to get a higher star rate. i'm really surprised. with those talented actors how can you go wrong, but i guess the bad scipt ruins it.
Phasekitty Phasekitty 8 years
I thought this looked a little dull. Thanks for the great review!
veronicaraye veronicaraye 8 years
eva looks nice in the top photo.
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