Director: James Gray | 117 minutes | drama, thriller, crime | Actors: Joaquin Phoenix, Eva Mendes, Mark Wahlberg, Robert Duvall, Alex Veadov, Dominic Colon, Oleg Taktarov, Moni Moshonov, Antoni Corone, Craig Walker, Tony Musante, Joe D’Onofrio, Yelena Solovey, Maggie Kiley, Paul Herman, Claudia Lopez, Katie Condidorio, Edward Shkolnikov, Katya Savina, Matthew Djentchouraev, Scott Nicholson, Robert C. Kirk, Al Linea, Teddy Coluca, Frank Girardeau, Michael Massimino, Sharon Wilkins, Francis Toumbakaris, Barbara Ann Davison
“We Own the Night” is an expertly made film that develops according to the standard screenplay of the TV cop series. While watching you get strong memories of an episode of the then famous TV series “NYPD”. That means the film’s story takes place along fairly predictable lines.
The story of “We Own the Night” is about the two Grusinsky brothers, who are of Polish-American descent, and is set in 1988 in Brooklyn, New York. The two brothers have grown apart. Joseph (Mark Wahlberg) has followed his father’s profession and has just been promoted to a senior position in the Narcotics Brigade. Bobby (Joaquin Phoenix, known for playing Johnny Cash in “Walk the Line”) is the manager of a large swinging nightclub, El Caribe. That club is in fact owned by the Russian mafia. Bobby is a manager and does not interfere with that. He doesn’t really want to know either. Bobby is a party animal and lives with his girlfriend Amada (Eva Mendes) from party to party, sniffing a lot of coke in passing. Let the party last forever!
Father Burt (Robert Duvall) is a beloved old hand and legendary police commissioner. In the nightclub there are also a number of shady Russian figures, who earn their money in drugs. This immediately sketches the expected developments. Brother Joseph decides to take on the drug traffickers and carries out a major raid on the nightclub. The target is the arrest of an alleged important Russian merchant, Vadim Nezhinski (Alex Veadov). Suspecting a major drug deal, Joseph and Burt ask Bobby to spy for them. No one outside the family knows that Bobby is Joseph’s brother, because Bobby uses his mother’s English surname. Bobby is not very keen on it, his own career comes first. The father tries to get his sons to work together anyway. Bobby has to choose between right and wrong.
After the raid, several dramatic developments followed in the form of attacks. These make Bobby decide to work fully with his brother, despite the great personal risks. The fears he then expressed in his infiltration with the Russian mafia are very credible. The storyline of that fraternal struggle is not particularly original. The characters in the film are somewhat stereotypical. Good acting performances are in return. Especially Joaquin Phoenix fulfills his role with conviction, Mark Wahlberg is less convincing as Joseph. As a refined actor, Robert Duvall portrays the character of supervisory director and father of two competing sons.
For lovers of car chase scenes, the film contains a magnificent car chase. The exciting race through New York in the rain is impressive. The acting and that sublime chase make “We Own the Night”, despite its somewhat straightforward plot and predictable storyline, a fine film for fans of the genre.