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Coming together to solve a series of murders in New York City are a police detective whose family was slain as part of a conspiracy and an assassin out to avenge her sister's death. The duo will be hunted by the police, the mob, and a ruthless corporation.
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
On the whole I think James Gray's movies benefit from his smooth directing, no rushed and furious MTV editing. This leads to a good deal of leniency from the part of critics (as with Night Shyamalan before it became too obvious he was shooting the same narrative structure over and over), a kind of prime for directors who don't harass the viewer with images + sounds but let the camera roll and the actors do their jobs, the story unfold and so on.
We Own the Night starts very well, the exposure is excellent. Even though the brother confrontation is definitely not new Joaquin Phoenix is so good you just get into the story and beg for the plot to become more complicated. Oops. The problem is the story becomes a one-way highway of the same old/same old. Joaquin Phoenix is ever so good you don't care too much until it becomes way way too much. In that respect (and lack of respect for the movie-goer) the movie ends in a lame way, rushing an happy and clean and tidy and moral conclusion.
The last lines (see the so-called "memorable quotes") say it all. It perfectly reflects that a smooth director may be too smooth on writing. Bringing sentiments before the camera is miles away from shooting scripted sentimentalism and I think James Gray has a problem with his characters' emotions since he is only able to play on pathos and good acting.
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