We Own the Night (2007) Poster

User Reviews

Review this title
201 Reviews
Sort by:
Standing ovation -- Not just at cannes
Melville-73 June 2007
I saw that We Own The Night received a standing ovation at the European critics screening and premiere at Cannes. Well, I can tell you at the preview screening I saw a while ago in the US, the audience applauded enthusiastically as well. The audience was totally into this movie in a way you don't usually see anymore. Not just grooving on it, but engrossed. Reminds me of The Godfather not just the movie, but the way the audience enjoyed it. Only reason I didn't give it a 10 was I don't give most movies at 10 unless they're like The Searcher or Vetigo. Again I don't want to give away too much about the movie because I hate now how everyone knows everything about a movie's plot before it opens. Let's just say it's both a crime movie and a family drama. A socially conscious melodrama and a cop story. And it has a couple of great action scenes. The acting was top notch by Joaquin Phoenix, Mark Wahlberg (better than in The Departed), Robert Duvall (always good) and especially Eva Mendes who I've never seen like this before. 9/10
176 out of 267 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Why Own the Night?
Steve5 March 2008
Warning: Spoilers
This movie is a real disappointment, especially if you enjoy most of the past performances by Joaquin Phoenix and Mark Wahlberg. Both actors have built a fine body of work, and Robert Duvall is one of the finest actors working today. However, We Own the Night fell short in so many areas I had to offset the otherwise love fest other users are having with this movie.

You could blame the script, as the dialog was weak in spots, and uninspired throughout. Phoenix' character, who is both son and brother to New York cops, has chosen a different path. But very unfortunate circumstances lead to his immediate entry into the police force, as a parole officer, where he instantly becomes the De-facto boss of the narcotics division. Prior to this though, he is placed into protective custody, but is allowed to go back to his nightclub, or the apartment of his girlfriends mother, and to even walk the streets if he sees fit. Duvalls character is always either mad at one son or the other, and frequently makes boneheaded decisions and statements that keep sending Phoenix further along a downward spiral of hopelessness and self loathing. Wahlberg plays a role that is both under developed and boring.

You could blame the direction, especially during the last 30 minutes of the movie. What did start as a unique story with a convincing amount of tension slowly falls apart, and at the end becomes laughable. The ending is so anti climatic that it too becomes comical. As Phoenix and team are tracking the movie's arch nemesis through a field of reeds, he calls off the search, orders a retreat and sets the field on fire. The team waits for the smoke and flames to flush the bad guy, when Phoenix goes back into the field. Impervious to heat and smoke, he hears a rustle and drops our villain with a single blind shot to the heart. The bad dude utters "Bobby" (Phoenix's character) and dies. But wait, it's not over there! Phoenix dramatically (pun indeed intended) exits through the smoke to find all the other cops now well away from the field and encircling the venerable handcuffed master-mind of the movie (no need to get too much into detail, it would further ruin the silliness and humor of the moment).

The movie does have merits, as I said. It is a period piece and does do the nightlife of 1988 justice. The violence is gritty and there is a lot of tension built up as the story unfolds. Nevertheless, these cannot overcome the many short falls and agony that one must endure. You will be thankful when credits roll at the end.
38 out of 53 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Solid and engaging if a bit too sombre for its own good
bob the moo4 August 2008
The Grusinsky family is a family of cops, father Bert is Deputy Chief and son Joe is Captain. However son Bobby has shunned this side of the family and, to Bert's chagrin, is using his mother's maiden name and is running a club in Brooklyn, mixing with those who see the police as a joke and the city as theirs. As a result the family is split, with neither willing to see the others' point of view. When Joe leads a raid on Booby's club and picks up several men of a high-profile Russian mobster the outcome is bloodshed - with a hit put out on Joe. With the Russians unaware of the family connection, Bobby must decide who he stands with and the risks he is willing to take for his family.

We Own the Night came and went in the cinemas over here and struck me as being one of those thrillers that gets made that is solid enough to watch but not remarkable enough to do really well. This was enough to make me check it out anyway though and it turned out to be pretty much what it appeared to be in the overview. This is no bad thing though because a solid thriller is still a solid thriller and sometimes that is a welcome relief from all the noisy, superficial blockbusters handed to us week in, week out. Set in the 1980's, the film does recall the cop thrillers of the 1970's to a certain point and it does feel like an old fashioned film in terms of the characters and the way it is shot and the rather grey and oppressive feel to the city of the time does lend itself to the narrative.

It's not a film of gripping tension though. There are several really well done scenes that are unbearably tragic and tense (the shoot-out between cars is particularly good) but mostly the film takes a slower pace that focuses on the characters. It is a good direction to go but the problem is that Gray allows it all to get just that bit too sombre and heavy and it does have an impact on the film in regards slowing it down somewhat. This seems to have been passed onto the cast as well, who are generally restrained in their emotions - again not a massive criticism but it does feel a bit like all these factors are weighing down the film to a certain extent. Phoenix impresses despite this and he does convince in his character even if he himself comes over like he has a weight on his shoulders that is crushing him; I get that that is part of his character but again it adds this sense of slowness to proceedings. Wahlberg is underused and has too little time and opportunity to make the most of his character - he is very much a supporting player. Duvall is better because his presence adds more and the lack of time doesn't take away from him as he does what he has to do. I enjoyed seeing Mendes doing more than being her usual foxy and a bit playful self - trust me, I do love her in that mode but she is capable of more. Gray and his cinematographer provide style when it matters but I think he is mostly responsible for the rather heavy feel to the entire film and it does rather suck the energy out of the film.

I'm not suggesting that this film should have been zingy and "fun" but just that it is sombre to the point of being a bit too much like hard work at times. In terms of content, characters and themes I found that it all worked but that this sense of weight did affect it. Still a solid film that is dramatically satisfying in an old fashioned way but these issues do prevent it being as memorable as it could have been.
17 out of 22 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Because the night doesn't belong to lovers
Superunknovvn12 February 2008
Warning: Spoilers
"We Own The Night" isn't what I thought it would be at first - another undercover cop movie. It's a pretty unique crime/drama with emphasis on the drama that depicts the aftermath of a police operation gone wrong. Joaquin Phoenix and Mark Wahlberg play two brothers whose lives have taken different turns, but who are brought back together when the Russian Mafia threatens to destroy their family.

Writer/director James Gray's movie is a tense and gripping affair. The characters are shaped well and embodied perfectly by the actors (although Mark Wahlberg is really just playing the quiet, aggressive guy that he's always playing once more). There's a pretty exciting car chase in there and a bugging operation that will make you cringe with fear for the main character.

That said, the movie isn't without its flaws. The first half drags on a bit, then it all goes too fast. Joaquin Phoenix' character becomes a policeman literally overnight and suddenly there's a concluding showdown, which comes out of nowhere and ends with a pretty unspectacular shootout. On top of that, most of the movie plays like a sequence of short episodes rather than one continuous story. Phoenix' character is too much in the focus of the story and the characters played by Eva Mendes and Mark Wahlberg just kind of enter and leave the plot without having too much of an impact on anything.

Make no mistake, though, this is one of the best gangster movies of 2007 (just after "Eastern Promises" and way ahead of "American Gangster"), although it is much closer in atmosphere to David Fincher's character-driven "Zodiac". And Joaquin Phoenix is so good, he was robbed of an Academy Awards nomination.
8 out of 9 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
coopkar17 June 2007
I caught a recent screening of this film and as a fan of thrillers I was more than impressed. The film creates a handful of true white-knuckle scenes but also accomplishes telling a story that has weight and depth. I love when a film takes its time to develop real characters and not repeats of what we've already seen. The crime genre is so full of clichés already. This film pays homage to classics such as French Connection while breaking new ground in its family/police drama. Phoenix, Wahlberg, Duvall and Mendes are all superb. Eva Mendes deserves a particular mention, as she has not yet been seen this way before.
142 out of 229 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
A Plot Threadbare from Overuse
gradyharp14 February 2008
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
38 out of 56 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
This film deserves to own one or two of your nights
bemorecynical200112 October 2007
Warning: Spoilers
James Gray's work here as writer-director has come leaps and bounds from his previous film The Yards, released in 2000. With We Own the Night, he crafts a fantastic story with a style set apart from current films. Perhaps not designed for audiences that fear classical storytelling, this film is refreshingly not reminiscent of the music videos/video games that are being packaged as movies. Gray has likened it to a Greek tragedy in its scope, where something far more devastating than predictability awaits. After a much discussed sex scene that manages to be risqué and sexy without going too far for tame audiences, the story really develops beautifully, exceeding my (already high) expectations. I'm looking forward to seeing it for a second time in theaters as I have a feeling that this one only improves with multiple viewings.

Gray creates real mood in several particularly excellent scenes. Two in particular, the drug house and car chase are so well constructed, and so well filmed. They build tension inconspicuously, they creep up on you to where you barely notice that you've started breathing harder. And the choice of composition and sound effects never feels overdone or out of place. It serves as a compliment to the suspense rather than the source. At times the effect almost sounds throbbingly ultrasonic. It adds palpability to scenes without overpowering them--something all too common today.

Of particular mention is Gray's use of hallways as set pieces. There are three different hallways used at different intervals in the film that are wonderfully atmospheric (as coupled with haunting audio and skillful direction) and indicative of a passage into the unknown. The last--Bobby walking down the corridor into blackness is both terrifying in its context and foretelling of the symbolic darkness he's entering in his life.

As for the cast, Joaquin Phoenix is (again) the heart, soul, and center of the film. Smartly given the main role, his weight, conviction and charisma easily stand out here. Conversely, Mark Wahlberg contributes little and provides the same fairly one-note performance we've seen before from him. But perhaps aided by their previous working relationship and off-screen friendship, he and Phoenix share enough believable chemistry to make their complicated relationship feel real. Duvall does fine work as their father, we've seen him better but I enjoyed the tension between his character and Phoenix's black sheep of the family. Eva Mendes is unobjectionable as well. Actually the relationship between Bobby (Phoenix) and Amada (Mendes) is perhaps the most touching and poignant in the film and Mendes is in no way a disappointment or distraction. More than just the girlfriend of a charismatic man, we believe in the relationship between Amada and Bobby, which makes the evolution of that relationship all the more resonant by film's end.

But, this is Phoenix's film. At his worst (if you can call it that) he's reminiscent of a young and passionate Al Pacino, and at his best, there is no one comparable. Phoenix takes this role and makes it heartbreaking, shading Bobby with sympathy and complexity. There are several scenes in which his reactions are stunning in their realism. A scene in a diner in which Bobby knows more than he can let on to a Russian drug dealer, Phoenix juggles a reflection of both inner and outer conflict that is revelatory in its subtlety--and he does it all with his face and eyes. He seems an old hand at the dreaded and difficult character arc, so his masterful work there is no surprise. What is surprising is that you instantly forget ever seeing him in anything before. When you watch We Own the Night, you can't see Joaquin Phoenix and you don't see any character he has previously played. His style, presence, manner, behavior and the feeling he projects has never been seen before. This is Phoenix as we've never seen him. And that is every bit as exciting as it sounds.

As a final comment on the film-making, the very last scene is a dream in its power and simplicity. Though some viewers may be used to something showier, it is about as perfect a final moment as I could have hoped for. As far as Joaquin Phoenix goes, the man just keeps getting better. Apparently so does James Gray.
100 out of 162 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Strong start and dumb finish
vostf6 December 2007
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.
75 out of 120 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
The most contrived film I've seen in awhile
iamiam17 October 2007
Warning: Spoilers
How can anyone have enjoyed this film? It was so hokey I was open-jawed through most of movie. Bobby is in hiding, with the badest of the bad out to kill him, and he joins the police. That's a low profile, huh? Then the chief swears him in conditionally (explains that he has to go to the academy after he solves the case), then puts him on the raid of the big drug deal. This is a guy who until recently was a coke-snorting party animal running a nightclub. When the bad guys are ambushing his motorcade when they are transferring him because the badest guy escaped, the trailing car is missing and none of the cops even notice - Bobby notices though. Then they shoot his driver (he manages to get from the backseat into the driver's seat without mishap - right), and the hit men inexplicably lose interest in him (the actual target) and go after his dad in the lead car. Those are professional hit men for you...at least in the mind of the cretin who crafted this silly story. Of course, Bobby the club manager is the guy who shoots the bad guy (who's last word is "Bobby" for some reason), then we go to the final scene where he's graduating from the academy (as promised) and guess what: he's the valedictorian. Wow! No middle of the class for this screenwriter. Oh, and the single tear running down Bobby's eye when he goes in to see his brother in the hospital was priceless.

Numerous other silly examples of unbelievable scripting are peppered throughout the film, but they are too numerous to list.

In summary: If you can completely suspend all rational belief, and you are easily entertained by people doing things that no human being who has survived to adulthood would ever do, then this movie is for you.
45 out of 70 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
A nice change from what's currently on offer at the movies!
shoffman-1117 June 2007
I saw this movie at a special screening in LA. There were lots of folks there from all walks of life and all ages - the movie seemed to go over very well with everyone in the room. The move is filled with some very tense moments and excellent performances by Joaquin Phoenix, Mark Wahlberg, Robert Duvall and Eva Mendes. Phoenix and Wahlberg work well together as the troubled brothers and Robert Duvall is perfect as always. I've seen some real stinkers at the movies recently (I won't bother you with the list because it's too long) so it was refreshing to see that movies can still be well made with characters you can care about and root for. Since the movie wasn't finished at the time I got to see it, I look forward to enjoying the movie again at local movie theater..
96 out of 166 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Routine and overlong cop drama.
RedRoadster9 December 2008
"We Own the night" is the story of Bobby Green (Joaquin Phoenix), a nightclub manager who has chosen a life of partying, drugs and gambling which is in stark contrast to his police captain brother (Mark Wahlberg) and police chief father (Robert Duvall). As the film progresses, Bobby is forced to choose between staying loyal to his drug dealing Boss or siding with his family.

The greatest problem with this film is that its been done so many times before and with much better results. "Mean Streets" (1973), "The Departed" (2006) to name but a few. Director James Gray is obviously trying to do a Scorsese type feature here but it falls far short of expectations.

Joaquin Phoenix mumbles his way through the story with a one note performance and shows that he isn't capable of being a credible lead. The change his character goes through is implausible and Phoenix never gives you any reason to believe the metamorphosis as he doesn't act any differently through the whole process. The Script gives Robert Duvall (one of my favourite actors) little to do other than get angry at someone or something whenever he's on screen and Mark Wahlberg underplays his part so much that he's actually boring. The stunning Eva Mendes doesn't seem to do anything significant other than get groped in the opening scene by Phoenix. After that she seems to be there to provide the "eye candy" only.

The script is fairly weak and the plot does not justify the running time, 30 minutes less could easily have been achieved. There are also many situations that the characters get themselves into which no sensible adult would allow themselves to. This really stretches credibility and suspension of disbelief. Also, you'll particularly enjoy how inept the Hit-men are in this film ! The final showdown itself feels contrived and unexciting which caps off an uneven and somewhat thrown together production. I don't understand the rapturous applause that other reviewers have given this film, its been done so much better elsewhere.

"We own the night" is a misfire in my opinion.
44 out of 78 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Too indulgent overall, could have been better served by objective editing
MashedA24 May 2008
Warning: Spoilers
****Spoilers**** ****Spoilers**** ****Spoilers**** ****Spoilers****

I have seen most of Joaquin Phoenix's movies and this kind of film suits his abilities very well, the film is a slow brooding film that starts of well but fades away towards the end. The two brothers who have chosen opposite paths is an old story, never the less this is a slightly more up to date twist on this theme with Bobby (Joaquin) ultimately finding the path of true light at the end. Unfortunately by the time Bobby does see the light I have already become so bored that I am not bothered about the outcome.

In places it is difficult to hear Phoenix because he seems to mumble and talk out the side of his mouth which is very distracting to say the least. As for Wahlberg, this film just shows us more of his dire acting abilities (anybody remember "Planet of the Apes 2001") this guy is so dull even he falls asleep through some of his boring dialogue!

Robert Duvall who plays "Deputy Chief Albert 'Bert' Grusinsky" a hugely talented actor, who, at the age of 76 years, yes 76 years, is given a part that expects us to suspend belief that he is the father of these two men, who in fact are young enough to be his grand children! Duvall is a great actor who should have stayed clear of this travesty, unfortunately he is one of the best actors in this film without even trying!

Back to the plot, the film outline in short, is this…. Two brothers (Phoenix and Wahlberg) choose different lifestyles, one follows in his father's (Duvall) footsteps as a police officer the other a nightclub manager with links to the Russian mafia. A nephew within in the Russian family (scary man with a ponytail) is plotting to flood the city with class 'A' drugs (angel dust). Wahlberg and Duvall try to enlist Phoenix to spy on the mob. Wahlberg is shot and takes months to recover. Wayward brother helps cops by spying on the mob. After spying on the mob wayward son is now on the run from the mob (scary man with a ponytail). The father is killed during a protracted chase sequence. Wayward son unbelievably JOINS the police force to get retribution on his father's death. Film ends with brothers saying 'I love you' during Bobby's graduation from police academy.

As I touched on earlier, the film starts out well with a realistic script that is somewhat formulaic but believable! During the proof reading of the second half someone must have got bored and nodded off because reality just got thrown out of the window…. How would a drug taking nightclub manager ever get drafted into the police? Watching the credits roll I saw that Phoenix and Wahlberg were producers in this movie! Perhaps the film should have been called 'We Own the Script'.

A little too indulgent overall, could have been better served by objective editing.
9 out of 13 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Zombies Spoon Feeding Us Lines
cogleone31 October 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Not a good film at all. Forget all the positive reviews, the only decent bits were the blurry car chase and the scene where Joaquin Phoenix goes to the Russian mob's den and gets found out.

A hilarious continuity cut at the start put me in the mood for the film though. Eva Mendes is having her bean flicked by Joaquin, one minute she's got tights on, the next they disappear! Hey Presto, Joaquin is a wizard!! After that the film just doesn't deliver. I spent the whole time comparing it to films it's like which are better, like The Departed and Carlito's Way. Mr Phoenix looks like he's on Temazepam, he wanders through the film in a daze, disinterested, and tired, he acts like he's just come out of an "Eat as much as you can" Chinese Buffet, shouldn't have had that 3rd plate Joaquin.

Mark Whalberg drifts in and out of the film with the enthusiasm of somebody who's just read such an appalling script. Robert Duvall is solid but dull. There are plenty of contrived exchanges that drag the film down. And Joaquin's transformation from night club manager to gun toting cop belongs in the realm of Science Fiction.

The guy who plays Jumbo gives one of the most shocking performances in the history of cinema. He acts in that generic-pseudo-cool gangster way, but his execution is diabolical, and to top it all, you get the feeling that the actor playing the role actually thinks he's doing a great job! I think he should retire.

Not very good at all.
18 out of 30 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Eventually a good movie
zelda31 December 2007
Warning: Spoilers
It's getting rare, so rare. I haven't seen a good movie in ages. I'm quite serious when it comes to quality but really, how Hollywood made me waste my time and money lately is huh well sick. But here comes Mr. Gray owning the night, bringing hope and relief from the darkness.

We own the night is for sure not original in its screenplay. The bad boy who becomes good in loyalty towards his family, the tough guy who decides to kill the evil he was making a living on to save his family. Even though he's never been a dealer, still, he's somehow mixed with all the drug issues going on in the club he works at. The man who turns out to have a conscience that leads him to pick up a side between the good and the evil.

But after all, what's wrong with a predictable screenplay? I'm not sure you can blame a movie for that single reason, at least not nowadays. There are way too many movies coming out to judge one only by its storyline. Then what makes the difference is the acting part; the ability of the actors to get into the character, to make the character become alive, alive as a character : not an actor playing a role but a role played by an actor. That's where the truth lies...and I'm afraid this is something that everyone forgets because the acting is of very poor quality most of the time. It is certainly the director that is to blame but the actor, what is the actor doing if he doesn't try hard to get into the character himself?

Joaquin Phoenix is very good at it. Very good.

In my opinion he's one of the most talented actors of his generation (my favorite undoubtedly). He's always great : as a Roman emperor or as Johnny Cash. He was good in U-Turn and The Yards too. But in We own the night, he's simply amazing. He brings about a high dose of emotion, he's complex and tortured. He makes his character so deep. Robert Duvall won an award but, honestly, the best actor in the movie is Phoenix. I didn't find Duvall extraordinary. He's just this old guy; proud, proud and disappointed, proud and worried, then proud and relieved but still worried, finally proud and dead. I'm sure he could have been better. As for Mark Whalberg, I don't really like him as an actor. I always feel that he's never really into his role, I think it's just his face...what can you do. As people compare those two movies, I would say he was better in The Departed. Then again, he's not OK in We own the night. Finally, Eva Mendes. She's surprising. Perfect as the girl who's out-of-place, who's truly in love but overwhelmed by the direction her life his taking and that she's not strong enough to follow.

On top of that, the movie is beautifully shot. Some scenes are extremely touching like the one where Phoenix goes to the hospital to see his brother after he got shot; this tear falling out on his cheek...You can literally FEEL the pain and you cannot help being somehow moved. The other beautiful scene is when Duvall dies. First getting dreadfully shot in the car in font of Phoenix. Then Duvall coming out of the car half-dead, under the heavy rain, his son watching him die, almost like a second time but this time for good. Another scene that is quite quite original is the march into the cocaine fabric. You follow Phoenix steps as you literally freak out along with him. You're not sure what's going to happen, the atmosphere is so gloomy and tensed but you know nothing good can happen there. It's like a hell resort, it reminded me of the house in Fight Club. Finally the last scene between the two brothers is a perfect end, with a bit of regret for the lost lover, the last and only regret of a previous existence.

I recommend this movie to anyone who wants a change, who wants to see actors playing the characters of an non flawed screenplay.
10 out of 15 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Intelligent and thought-provoking drama developing a familiar conflict with the Russian mafia
ma-cortes15 June 2009
The film starts in Brooklyn , 1888. Two brothers, Robert and Albert Green have chosen separated ways. Bobby Green Grusinsky(Joaquin Phoenix) is manager of a Russian club, who suffers emotional pain when has to confront with his father and brother. Joseph Green Grusinsky (Mark Wahlberg)is a police officer recently promoted to captain, he's a cold-blood professional. Their father is the upright Deputy Chief Albert Grusinsky(Robert Duvall). Bobby has a beautiful fiancée(Eva Mendes) and directs efficiently his club. When a Russian mobster is making his heroin trade, Joseph and Albert ask help to Bobby but he declines. Then Joe busts the discotheque that Robert manages and detain the Russian gangster but also to Bobby. Then the events wreak havoc and lead a spiral out of control.

This is a familiar drama full of intrigue, action, tension, thrills, and violence. Stunning performances by the trio protagonist, Wahlberg, Duvall and Phoenix who frequently casts for the director Gray. Gorgeous beauty from Eva Mendes who also does a magnificent acting as suffering girlfriend .This entertaining and suspenseful film is plenty of twists and unexpected turns. Adequate and moving musical score by Wojciech Kilar.Atmospheric cinematography reflecting splendidly interiors and exteriors from Queens streets.The picture is well directed by John Gray who frequently deals familiar conflicts set in N.Y , in fact he grew up in Queens and his grandparents were Russian immigrants. Gray is a nice writer/director and winner of several prizes.His first movie was ¨Litte Odessa¨(1994) at age of twenty-four and winner of the Venice film Festival, concerning also about Russian immigrants. His following was ¨The Yards¨ which was selected for official competition at Cannes Festival and starred by Mark Wahlberg and Joaquin Phoenix . His last film is titled ¨Two lovers¨(2008), and again with Joaquin Phoenix. Rating : Better than average, well worth watching.
11 out of 17 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Great Performances and Directing Drive This Film Across The Finish Line.
Matt_Layden3 November 2007
Warning: Spoilers
A New York club owner has his club raided by cops one night, the catch is that one of the cops doing the raiding is his own brother. After his brother his sent to the hospital, he takes matters into his own hands to try and catch the ones who did it. His life then is turned upside down, as he must look over his shoulder at every turn, or turn the tables on those after him.

I wasn't all that interested in "We Own The Night". Granted it had a good cast, a competent director and a decent story line, the trailers just never grabbed me. Nevertheless I gave it a try and it is exactly what I thought it would be, a decent film with great acting and good directing. "We Own The Night" is no "Departed", which is what many people will compare this to, as it came out the year prior and bare similar plot scenarios. "We Own The Night" is a decent film that can stand on it's own, but it's lackluster ending and stages where it drags on a bit stop it from being a film that might be remembered years from now.

Bobby is a night club owner and his brother, Joesph is the cop that raids his place. Joesph is after one man and one man only, Vadim. Vadim decides to send this cop a message and has him killed, but Joesph survives the attack. Bobby decides to take matters into his own hands, go undercover and stop Vadim from his drug running. Things don't go as smooth as planned and then we have a big shoot out in the drug building. This scene, along with a unique car chase scene later on, stand out as highlights in a film that is mostly talk. The car chase is unique in it's own right because most of it is done within the car, only briefly going outside to show the viewer where they are headed. It's pouring rain and the one sound that you cannot help but hear it the windshield wipers going back and forth, trying to give us a clear view of what's going on, but it's never clear enough for long.

Bobby is the main character, played by Phoenix with Wahlberg playing the brother, in a more supporting role. Eva Mendes and Robert Duvall round out the rest of the cast, both hold up well with what they have. Surprisingly Mendes, who has a real performance here. She genuinely loves Bobby and doesn't want to see him get hurt. Duvall, the father, always liked the one son more then the other, mostly because the son was following in his footsteps. With the small screen time both characters have, they manage to change drastically. Both in the opposite direction, one grows closer, while the other further apart. Wahlberg does well with his role, he doesn't have any material to work with, other then to be angry here and kind there. This film belongs to Phoenix.

A powerful performance is in the film and Phoenix delivers on every level. Bobby is a complex individual, we never truly know what he is thinking or believes. He is rolling with the bad guys and tells his family to screw off, yet will run to their aid when needed. Phoenix delivers this performance, mainly through his eyes. In one particular scene he is told about his brothers attempted murder and the man telling him is the man who did it. Phoenix plays both sides of the spectrum perfectly well, hiding his true emotions to the other character, yet showing everything to the viewer.

Gray uses light and sound to his advantage here. When one character dies, the main thing we hear is silence, with the exception of the rain hitting the floor. Gray also likes to use hallways, for instance, when Bobby is about to enter the drug operations room. He travels down a dark a brooding hallway, into the darkness he goes, into the danger that lies ahead. The film is never too bright, or too dark, it has mid grays and blues throughout. It's set back in the 70's and this feeling achieved right from the opening pictures.

The final climatic showdown is what brings this film down a notch. A good premise with bad execution is what happened. Two characters are traveling through a marsh field, one is after the other, the suspense is building...then we all of a sudden stop and set the marsh on fire. We are waiting for this one guy to come out and give up, all suspense is gone, but then Bobby decides to go back in, so we are suppose to go back in with him. They've already brought us in and taken us out, now they want us to go back on this journey with them. The second time we enter, the suspense has settled and the scene doesn't last long enough to try and rebuild it. It's over before it begins. Some plot holes also hurt "We Own The Night", like how some people know they are brothers, yet others have no clue. It would seem like someone would have known something beforehand.

All in all "We Own The Night" is a good film, I can recommend it to you. It has great performances, especially from Phoenix and good directing. IF the story was a little tighter and the final ten minutes more suspenseful, "We Own The Night" would be one everyone's top ten list, instead it might have to sit at the next number out. Which is a shame, cause this film is worthy of praise.
29 out of 54 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Awesome movie but don't expect to see an unofficial Departed sequel
PirateLordJackSparrow14 October 2007
We Own The Night is a great crime drama. That's crime drama not crime action. Jame Gray does a great job directing this film. Gray should see some more directorial work very soon. He is one of the best underrated directors today. However don't come to the theater expecting to see an unofficial Departed sequel. You won't see it because this movie has a different style and flow. It's not as action packed as The Departed. This movie does not need a ton of action to hold your attention though. We Own The Night focuses on it's characters and their relationships in order to hold your attention. You will see some action but don't come into this movie expecting to see Die Hard or The Departed. If you come into the movie expecting to see a deep look into how characters deal with life changing events you will not be disappointed. Overall this movie deserves a solid 9.
54 out of 110 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
i saw it tonight! AMAZING
bree1233 October 2007
I loved everything about this movie. drama, action, love, loss, grief, anger and so much more. The actors really take you there and your heart beats as fast as their's and you're scared just as much as they are and you feel their pain and sadness and the movie is just amazing and i cant wait to see it so many more times at more college prescreenings and when it comes out in theaters all over! James Gray s awesome too, he's the writer and the director. he was at the screening i was at tonight and talked and he's such a great guy and he takes so much time to research and his emotion and passion for the story is very much shown and appreciated.

go see it right away, i know i will be seeing it again and again
55 out of 113 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Spit_and_Image29 October 2008
Warning: Spoilers
I'll try to keep it short because so many comments are available to detail the disappointments in the movie.

Bottom line - it was absurd. The cast was solid, and the look of the picture was fine, but EVERY key turning point in the movie was driven by (1) jaw-dropping coincidence, (2) implausible stupidity by either police or criminals who are supposed to be the best at what they do, or (3) characters doing things they wouldn't do.

On that last point, Joaquin Phoenix's character Bobby is certainly a contender, but the champion is Mark Wahlberg's Joe, a bold, brave, and brash, bad-ass cop who recovers from a dramatic shooting only to cower in the weeds at the end so that his previously-criminally-associated brother-turned-deputized-police-officer-for-two-days can step in to lead a major East Coast drug raid. And all of that is LITERAL....

Oh, and somehow the bad guys can't figure out that the nightclub manager that they invited to come to their top-secret drug processing facility is the brother of the cop they went out of their way to gun down in the middle of the street, even though the nightclub brother had openly attended the cop brother's police ceremony a couple nights before, and the cop brother raided the nightclub brother's bar after that, and the nightclub brother was let out of jail despite possession of narcotics, and so on and so on and so on.

Don't try to untangle it. Don't even try to see it.
13 out of 22 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Good fellas, backwards....
jordan_smith7 September 2007
The "Heaver" Joaquin plays this marvelously. Eva and Mark, and Robert round out this "heavyweight" movie about Bronx cops dealing with the Job. More then a cop movie, it deals with critical life decisions regarding loyalty, respect, courage, and commitment. You will enjoy this film, regardless of what kind of movies you normally like. The sound is awesome, full and fat, with some "old" rock and great underscore. Cinemagraphically, the film has a hard "edge", cold and rough, very well done. The movie is 6 reels, not too long, and goes places you don't expect it to go. Well, I expect everyone to go see this film, and would hope they see it on a real screen with real 5.1 sound.
40 out of 82 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
what a stupid movie
charlie_mc_us25 October 2007
Warning: Spoilers
After reading the New Yorker review, I decided to see this movie. What a farce. Joaquin Phoenix trudges through this movie like he's on the Burmese Death March. All the characters appear to be slightly green -- the DP must have been someone's brother. Was this supposed to make the actors look gritty? They looked seasick instead.

The story is stupid. Marky Mark (a Brooklyn Cop) warns brother Phoenix (a Nightclub manager) that the nightclub Phoenix manages is going to be raided -- one of the patrons, the nephew of the nightclub's owner, is a major Russian drug kingpin. The next night the club is indeed raided, to Phoenix's surprise and rage. The huge velvet-covered club is full of people who are apparently so drugged out, that when the cops finally wade through into the crowd of hundreds, most have not dropped their stashes. Oh, OK. And the drug Kingpin, nephew of the Russian nightclub owner, has nothing on him. I guess the cops were hoping he'd have his entire stash in his pants.

Phoenix is so mad after the club is raided! Even though his cop brother told him the night before the raid that the cops were coming! And the Uncle knows nothing of his nephew's drug dealing! (The cops ask the uncle "Does your nephew have an office here in the nightclub", and the uncle answers "No!") That's gritty police work! And then the Russians try to kill Marky Mark -- they try to shoot him in the brain, from one inch away, but miss! It's the only realistic thing in the movie! Then the Russian drug kingpin decides he wants to build a "brand" with his coke, and decides he's not only going to ask for Phoenix's help, but he's going to show Phoenix his entire operation! The drug guys don't know that Phoenix is Marky Mark's brother! How could they -- Phoenix is using his mother's maiden name! Phoenix wears a wire, unbeknownst to his father, who runs the entire department! OK! He takes down the kingpin with amazing physical prowess, even though he looks like he'll have a heart attack just walking down the street! Then the Russians kill Phoenix's father! How could it happen! And the Russian kingpin uncle comes to the funeral and stands in front with all the cops and Phoenix's family! The cops have not yet figured out that the Uncle is running the whole thing, even though it's his nightclub and his nephew! And the drugs are coming into the country inside fake fur coats! It must be the fake fur that's fooling the drug sniffing dogs! The coke comes out of the coats by dipping the coats in water! Why didn't I think of it! And the 10 year old grandkids are couriers! They must be really strong to carry 88 pounds of cocaine! Those Russian kids are superkids! And all those guys standing around in the middle of the marshes of Brooklyn have machine guns! And the drug kingpin escapes 20 minutes before he's supposed to be taken to trial! And Marky Mark panics when he's supposed to lead the charge! And Joaquin is an expert marksman, and full of incredible courage! And it was his best friend who gave him up! And Joaquin pokes his best friend in the eyes. Is he going to gouge those eyes out! I hope so! And is Marky Mark's wife going to smack Joaquin for calling her fat! I hope so! And . . .

I don't have the energy to go on. A preposterous movie, stupid. At the end Phoenix looked like he was glad the whole thing was over. So was I. I WANT MY 10 BUCKS AND MY 2 HOURS BACK.
14 out of 25 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Dull, boring and awful
whitakeroh16 October 2007
Lately the movies have just been awful. We Own the Night is no exception. This movie has several fatal flaws to it. It's characters are terribly contrived, the acting is poor and the storyline is nonsensical and boring. First the characters in the movie do not feel real and are terribly out of place. Joaquin's character (Bob?) is a night club manager. His character goes from hard core partying night club manager to police officer. Wahlberg and Duvall are the brother and dad of Joaquin and they're cops. They share no chemistry as father/son; their relationship with Bob as their son doesn't stand out at all. The three have no chemistry on screen as a family. No attempt whatsoever is made to develop these characters. Wahlberg's and Mende's characters are absurd and bad to the point of being ridiculous. We have Wahlberg who is a narco cop yet becomes a silly pansy in the face of adversity. We have Mendes, a hottie actress intent on doing nothing but talking about her mom during the movie. The acting is poor all the way around. Joaquin's character (Bob) seems to mutter incomprehensible sentences during the entire movie and seems like a nervous schoolboy during the entire move. He is always walking around as if he has a back problem. Seriously notice how the guy appears hunched over whenever he does anything in this movie. The way Phoenix puts together sentences is simply atrocious. Duvall adds literally nothing to this lame drama, he is an old guy who, like anthony hopkins, attempts to portray roles that he could execute 20 years ago but not today. Also, he just lacks charisma, why the heck would a cop dad be so mad at his son for simply managing a night club? We are never given a reason why Duvall dislikes Bob managing the club-allegedly its because there are bad guys there? But bad guys are everywhere in life. It just doesn't make sense. Which leads me to my next point.

Which is that the storyline is awful and makes little sense. Even in 1988 or whenever this takes place if cops are being dropped like flies in big city one thing you can count on is absurd federal government involvement. We are led to believe that it's three cops versus an empire of Russian mafia. Please. During the chase scene we have a car disappear with no explanation. We have the chief of police getting axed by himself with no back up. There are no other cops. We have a runaway cop killer who escapes and then stays in the area to do a drug deal with his uncle who owns the club and knows his nephew is a wanted drug dealer. Would you as a major drug dealer let your runaway cop killing nephew join you in the city where he killed a cop in a major drug deal? No. Further, during the drug bust raid we have cops just sitting there in high grass calling out to major drug lords to stop thus encouraging said drug dealers to shoot them. Yea. Further, we have said cops in high grass yelling at drug lords with assault rifles whilst not wearing head protection. Yea. Then we have the Russian uncle who is partaking in major drug dealing with said runaway felon nephew. Further, you have duvall and wahlberg approaching Phoenix and getting mad at him for managing a club that appears pretty lucrative. Hmm. Then you have them mad at him for, uh, being around bad people I guess? Though we're never quite let on to why Phoenix is so hated by his cop family. The fact that a drug dealer attends a night club is hardly a reason to hate the person for managing the night club. Then we have a police force which consists apparently of like four cops versus the Russian mafia with no one else participating. The car chase is the only scene which I liked because it seemed real. No loud obnoxious music geared towards the MTV crowd, rather just an accurate description of cars chasing each other in rainy New York.

Overall this movie was incredibly bad and the acting and storyline were awful. The actors were not very good and I wish Hollywood could take the approach that great looks does supersede acting in the movie business. Do not feel obliged to cast hotties when they lack the ability to act.
19 out of 36 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Sibling feud develops into brotherly love to fight crime and bring justice.
Danny Blankenship27 October 2007
"We Own the Night" certainly isn't a film classic, but of today's films it provides enough drama, tension, style, and most of all shows justice and honor of family. Set in the late 1980's in New York City when the drug and party world was at an all-time craze, the plot focuses on two brothers the first straight laced and NYPD cop Joseph Grusinsky(Mark Wahlberg) and second his brother Bobby(Joaquin Phoenix) the different and darker party drug snorting playboy who enjoys his sexy sidekick girlfriend Amada(Eve Mendes). This film then turns to a sibling struggle as Joseph and his father Burt(Robert Duvall) try to convert Bobby over to the good side and leave the dark underworld of money and drugs behind. The film is filmed with tense moments of family struggle and many scenes are stylish and flashy, plus Mendes gives a sexy performance. And as always veterans Wahlberg, Duvall, and Phoenix perform well. Most of all it's best to see the growing and transforming of family and brotherly love return as the Joaquin character teams up with brother Joseph to bring down the bad guys after a family tragedy. Overall a decent film of family moral reverse that bonds together to bring justice.
22 out of 44 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Dandy_Desmond12 January 2010
Warning: Spoilers
Don't bother with this movie, you've probably seen something very similar done a lot better. The movie starts with a pointless soft porn sequence which is quite apt as the story and acting was about the level of a soft porn movie.

Mr Phoenix is OK, Mark Whalberg is a cardboard cut out as usual and Robert Duvall, well I've never liked his acting anyway Apocalypse Now apart. Eva Mendes is very sexy end of.

We also have moments which as supposed to be 'cool' i think, using pop/rock music with our actors looking great (think Scorsese, Means Streets - Robert DeNiro enters the bar in slo mo with Jumpin Jack Flash belting out) but come off like a novice director trying too hard to do a Scorsese.

Don't waste your time as I did.
6 out of 9 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Like "The departed" ... only not good
jose2014 October 2007
The requirements say I have to fill out about ten lines of these comments For this movie just ain't worth them It's looong derivative and at times downright dumb

Were these great actors improvising? it felt like that sometimes

Wahlberg and Phoenix felt fake, Duvall is great but shallow somehow, and Mendes looks fine but looks out of place --and doesn't show nearly as much skin as the buzz would seem to promise

All in all, a waste of money and good actors


A mismanagement of movie resources and a waste of this viewer's time and money
11 out of 20 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
An error has occured. Please try again.

See also

Awards | FAQ | User Ratings | External Reviews | Metacritic Reviews