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Brooklyn, 1988. Crime is rife, especially drugs and drug violence. A Russian thug is building his heroin trade, while everyone laughs at the cops. Brothers have chosen different paths: Joe has followed his father Bert into New York's Finest; he's a rising star. Bobby, who uses his mother's maiden name, manages a club. Bobby too is on the rise: he has a new girlfriend and a green-light to develop a Manhattan club. Joe and Bert ask him to help with intelligence gathering; he declines. Then, Joe raids Bobby's club to arrest the Russian. From there, things spiral out of control: the Russian puts out a hit on Joe, personal losses mount, and Bobby's loyalties face the test. Written by
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
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