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We Own The Night October 11, 2007

Posted by Sai in English, Movies, Reviews.
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Set in 1988, the film is about Bobby Green/Grusinsky (Joaquin Phoenix), who is the manager of a nightclub in New York. Born in a family of police officers, Bobby doesn’t follow in the footsteps of his father (Robert Duvall) or brother Joseph (Mark Wahlberg). He even changes his last name to hide his relationship with the family. A drug investigation brings Joseph to Bobby’s nightclub in search of Vadim Nezhinski (Alex Veadov). Soon Joseph and his father are targeted by the Russian mafia and it is up to Bobby to help his brother and father using his inside knowledge and connections.

The film has satisfying performances but this isn’t the film for outstanding work. When you watch the promos of this film, it seems like this would be a thrilling movie about the conflict between two brothers on opposite sides of the law. However, those promos are misleading. The film really revolves around Joaquin Phoenix’s character. Robert Duvall, Eva Mendes and Mark Wahlberg play convincing supporting parts. I was expecting the film to revolve around Wahlberg and Phoenix but Wahlberg gets very limited time and little scope for histrionics. This isn’t the right role for him after The Departed. Mendes’ character (Bobby’s girlfriend) doesn’t get a suitable sendoff but she does get some scope to perform.

Director James Gray (Little Odessa, The Yards) clearly knows how to create an atmosphere. He creates the right mood for the film and narrates the story at a leisurely pace. Despite a competent helmer, the film doesn’t make a great impression, mainly due to the writing. At the end of the screening, I had two words to describe this film: “nothing special”. The screenplay, also by Gray, seems too convenient at times. One big question that one asks at the beginning of the film is about how Bobby is able to hide his identity effectively from the gangsters despite still meeting his family every once in a while. Similar questions keep popping up. In spite of the logical flaws, the main drawback is that the film doesn’t offer any thrilling moments and avid filmgoers could easily predict the events that unfold.

Overall, this is a well made film that could appeal to those who enjoy crime dramas. However, it has nothing new to offer. Michael Clayton, which is also releasing this weekend, is receiving rave reviews from critics and might make a better watch.