We Own the Night

Distributed By: Sony Pictures

Reviewed by Melissa Minners


            I had seen several previews for the movie, We Own the Night, one a full-length movie theater trailer.  But, after reading descriptions of the movie and one very telling television promo, I was confused.  The lengthy trailers presented one type of story, while the descriptions and the television promo presented something entirely different.  I was rather unsure as to whether or not I wanted to see the film, but the energetic and highly enjoyable soundtrack decided me – I rented the movie.

            We Own the Night takes place in the late 1980s and centers on a Brooklyn family that has gone its separate ways.  Father, Burt Grusinsky (Robert Duvall), is Deputy Chief of Police and his son, Joseph (Mark Wahlberg), has followed in his path.  Burt’s other son, Bobby (Joaquin Phoenix), has chosen to take his mother’s last name of Green and is manager of a club in Brighton Beach named El Caribe.  The club is owned by a prominent Russian family.

            Excelling in police work, Joseph is promoted to Captain of the Brooklyn Narcotics Unit.  With the drug scene escalating, Joe has set his sights on one of the biggest players in the area – Vadim Nezhinski (Alex Veadov).  Unfortunately, Joe has learned that Vadim runs his operation out of Bobby’s club.  Joe goes to Bobby for help, but Bobby is too entranced with the club scene and his girlfriend, Amada (Eva Mendes), and wants nothing to do with stopping the local drug trade.

            But when Joe is ruthlessly gunned down by a member of Vadim’s gang and his father becomes a target, Bobby can no longer ignore the problem.  Approached by Vadim in an effort to involve him in trafficking within the club, Bobby sees this as a chance to avenge his family and goes undercover.  Can Bobby gain Vadim’s trust and take down the most prominent drug trafficker in the area, or will he get himself and everyone he loves killed trying?

            I have to say that I was wholly unprepared for the opening scenes of We Own the Night.  I knew it was a rated ‘R’ movie for violent scenes, strong language and sexual content.  I had no idea that the sexual content would be so explicit!  Can we leave SOMETHING up to the imagination, please?!

            As for the rest of the film, where do I start?  These folks are supposed to be from Brooklyn, right?  Mark Wahlberg has the same accent he uses in every movie…nothing ever changes with this guy.  He plays the same kind of tough guy role in each movie.  Robert Duvall and Joaquin Phoenix supply some of the fakest Brooklyn accents I have ever witnessed!  I expected quite a bit more from seasoned veteran actors and yet, I felt that the acting fell rather flat in this film.

            The storyline was commendable, but the dialogue between characters was stilted.  It sounded as if whoever was writing this film believed that people from Brooklyn actually had very little intelligent to say.  Bobby’s friend, Jumbo Falsetti, was the most stereotypical Brooklyn club scene reject I have ever seen.  By the way, the name Falsetti is the laziest sort of foreshadowing I have ever seen.  Eva Mendes is at once sexy, cloyingly sweet and incredibly annoying in her portrayal of Bobby’s girlfriend.

            The plot twist at the end was not really a twist at all, as anyone with a brain could have figured this movie out from the very beginning.  It was no surprise when we discovered that someone had betrayed Bobby.  It’s no surprise when we find out who that someone is.  It is absolutely no surprise when we discover who is actually behind Vadim’s operation.  Everything about this movie is predictable.

            I will say that the cinematography was great.  The whirling dervish that can be the club scene is perfectly depicted in camera pans and spins.  The scene in which Bobby is being brought to Vadim’s base of operations is extremely well done.  Created so that the viewer sees through Bobby’s eyes and hears through Bobby’s ears, this scene is actually a tad spooky and nerve wracking. 

            But the reality is that cool camera angles, innovative cinematography and a great soundtrack are not enough to save this film.  We Own the Night was such a waste of my time and my money that I couldn’t even be bothered to watch the special features, which included featurettes about the making of We Own the Night and an audio commentary by director James Gray.  Knowing that I’m a nut for special features, the fact that I didn’t watch them should say enough for you as to whether or not I recommend you see this movie.  But in case you didn’t get the hint – DON’T WASTE YOUR TIME!


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