We Own the Night (2 stars)

We Own the Night


Despite sounding like a 1980s power rock anthem, writer/director James 'Little Odessa' Gray’s tough cop melodrama owes its title to the motto emblazoned on the badges of New York’s lawmen. Entrepreneur Bobby (Joaquin Phoenix) and straight-laced policeman Joseph (Mark Wahlberg) are the feuding sons of grizzled senior Burt (Robert Duvall), and one look at Bobby’s diamond earring makes it clear which brother isn’t sticking to the family’s stern moral code. Indeed, Bobby runs a swanky nightclub for Russian gangsters while getting high with pneumatic party girl Amanda (Eva Mendes). But when the same gangsters who frequent his club gun down Joseph in the street, Bobby is forced to examine his conscience and change his selfish ways.

As with Gray’s earlier Little Odessa and The Yards – two intense, small-scale studies of Big Apple denizens on the wrong side of the law, Gray offers up more blue-collar familial shtick here, both Phoenix and Wahlberg reprise the moody, muscular performances they provided for Gray on The Yards. And there’s strong action in the form of a vivid French Connection-style car-chase through a blinding rainstorm that acutely highlights Bobby’s frustration with his predicament. Yet, despite its visual accomplishment, Gray’s plotting eventually boils down to the same warehouse shootout as any straight-to-cable pot-boiler, meaning that We Own the Night is ultimately as worthy as it is dull. (Eddie Harrison)
General release from Fri 14 Dec.

We Own the Night

  • 2 stars
  • 2007
  • US
  • 1h 57min
  • 15
  • Directed by: James Gray
  • Written by: James Gray
  • Cast: Joaquin Phoenix, Mark Wahlberg, Eva Mendes, Robert Duvall

Entrepreneur Bobby (Phoenix) and straight-laced policeman Joseph (Wahlberg) are the feuding sons of grizzled senior Burt (Duvall), and one look at Bobby's diamond earring makes it clear which brother isn't sticking to the family's stern moral code. Both Phoenix and Wahlberg give strong, moody performances, yet, despite…