Review: We Own the Night

We Own the Night
7 10

Directed by: James Gray
Starring: Joaquin Phoenix, Mark Wahlberg, Eva Mendes...

PLOT: Corruption and crime hit an all-time high in the 1980’s NYC, when Russian mafia infiltrated drugs into the club scene and played target practice with the cops. Bobby (Phoenix) is a big shot club manager who abandons his police family roots to differentiate himself from his father Burt (Robert Duvall) and brother Joseph (Wahlberg) as he moves up in the club scene. When Russian kingpin declares war on the NYPD, it puts him in a compromising and personal situation, which ultimately forces him to face his inevitable destiny.

CRITIQUE: Having established his criminal credit with his 1994 film debut LITTLE ODESSA, writer/director James Gray reunites with actors Mark Walberg and Joaquin Phoenix with whom he collaborated in his last film, THE YARDS. In his highly anticipated Cannes premiere of WE OWN THE NIGHT, Phoenix plays Bobby Green, an ambitious club manager who has distanced himself from his star-cop brother Joseph (Walberg) and father Burt (Duvall) who is deputy of chief police. Also joining the cast is sexy Latina actress Eva Mendes as Bobby’s party girlfriend Amada.

The film opens to very steamy scene with Bobby and Amada in a private room of a nightclub. Flying high at a glamorous disco, they engage in some sexy foreplay before joining the other partiers downstairs in the nightclub. Initially sex, drugs and disco elude to a Studio 54 like aura, but the script quickly turns into an action-packed crime drama when the mafia gets too close for comfort. A drug bust elevates into a street war between the Russian mafia and the NYPD, leaving Bobby with no other choice than to pursue a path, which will honor his family. The film, which was titled after an 80’s NYPD anti-drug publicity slogan, resonates love, loss and betrayal. These are the formulaic ingredients that make for a good action, crime-drama.

The film is shot with a dark and grim lighting reflective of the 80’s dirty and corrupt NYC streets. It has some exciting chase and firing scenes which always make for good entertainment. Overall, it's shot well, but the story is somewhat splattered and incohesive. The strength of this film however, is its star power. The talented cast is magnificent and their chemistry works well. Duvall displays the perfect tenderness expected of a caring, noble father while Wahlberg and Phoenix are befittingly clashed as opposing brothers with differing goals and attitudes. Mendes’ surprising transition into an ideal, glamorous disco queen is effortless. Together, they all play their respective parts with conviction and display a working compatibility under the directorial vision of James Gray. Despite its swinging, the plot is thrilling and wraps up quite nicely. I found myself immersed and pleasantly entertained throughout the film. -- 7/10

Source: JoBlo.com



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