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  We Own the Night

Starring: Joaquin Phoenix, Mark Wahlberg, Eva Mendes, Robert Duvall

Directed by: James Gray

Produced by: Nick Wechsler, Marc Butan, Joaquin Phoenix, Mark Wahlberg

Written by: James Gray

Distributor: Universal Pictures, Sony Pictures Releasing

     We Own the Night is a standard police procedural that is made thoroughly involving by its impressive production values. In making the film, writer/director James Gray clearly decided to craft a piece more concerned with nailing an established formula than ambitiously failing at creating something new. And nail a formula he does! Even though We Own the Night tackles familiar “cops and drug-lords” territory, it oozes in an involving embrace of the Hollywood style. Gray effortlessly captures the film’s setting, a crime-ridden late-1980s Brooklyn plagued by moral dilemmas such as the one experienced by club-manager protagonist Bobby Green (Joaquin Phoenix). Bobby finds himself smack in the middle of a drug-war taking place between the NYPD (in a task-force headed by his father and brother) and the Russian mafia (of which his boss’ nephew, Vadim Nezhinski, is a verified part of). As he decides how much to involve himself in the conflict, Bobby is highly influenced by the atmosphere around him, which Gray brings to life vividly. Aiding Gray’s development of the setting are the efforts of the tremendous cast, which is excellent across the board. Phoenix, Mark Wahlberg (as Bobby’s brother), Robert Duvall (as Bobby’s dad), and Eva Mendes (as Bobby’s girlfriend) all steal a fair number of scenes, realistically inventing their characters and the sense of moral consequence that they embody. Not to mention, the picture reaches its conclusion in one of the most brilliantly executed, heart-pounding sequences of the year, a high-grass-set game of cat-and-mouse between Bobby and Nezhinski. On the whole, We Own the Night makes for a terrific entertainment.

-Danny Baldwin, Bucket Reviews

Review Published on: 10.12.2007

Screened on: 10.12.2007 at the Edwards San Marcos 18 in San Marcos, CA.


We Own the Night is rated R and runs 117 minutes.

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