October 12, 2007 We Own The Night
Studio: Sony Pictures Rating: R for strong violence, drug material, language, some sexual content and brief nudity.
In the 1980's the rallying cry of a special unit of the New York City Police Department was "We Own The Night." In a new release which bears that title, Joaquin Phoenix, Mark Wahlberg, Eva Mendes and Robert Duvall star in a story which examines family bonds straddling the line between good and evil.
The year is 1988 and illegal drugs are sweeping through New York, bringing with them violence and crime.
Phoenix (Bobby Green) is a nightclub manager hiding a family secret. His brother and father are police officers. Bobby tries to keep a low profile while enjoying time with his girlfriend (Eva Mendes.)
But events conspire to force Bobby to make a choice between his family and his business. With his deputy police chief father Burt (Duvall) leading the charge against the drug dealers, his brother Joseph (Walhberg) tries to convince Bobby to help the police in their battle.
Writer-director James Gray tends to focus on gangster stories and "We Own The Night" is no different. While the conflict between the Russian mob and New York's finest is the film's central theme, how the two brothers and their father interact is the movie's real emotional hook.
With family in the line of fire Bobby must figure out where his true loyalties lie. To protect those he loves, Bobby has to choose between walking away and waging an all-out war to wipe out his former associates.
"We Own The Night" is a fairly satisfying story but its biggest problem is its familiarity. The plot and direction move along fairly well but they certainly don't mine any new ground.
Compared to an incredibly well-made gangster movie like the recent release "The Departed," Bobby's struggle suffers in comparison.
A far cry from a powerhouse film, "We Own The Night" ends up being an entertaining but ultimately average average cops and robbers tale.
On my rating scale, "We Own The Night" earns a Double.
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