We Own The Night (15)

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The ViewBirmingham Review

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Review byMatthew Turner12/12/2007

Four out of Five stars
Running time: 117 mins

Engaging, impressively directed crime thriller with a sharply written script and strong performances from its three leads.

What's it all about?
Taking its name from the NYPD motto in the 1980s, We Own The Night is set in 1988 and stars Joaquin Phoenix as nightclub owner Bobby Green, who has changed his name from Grusinsky to avoid association with his police deputy father, Burt (Robert Duvall) and his brother Joe (Mark Wahlberg), an NYPD officer. Bobby has always been willing to turn a blind eye to Russian Mafia types and their drug deals in his club, but when his father and brother warn him that the club is going to be raided, he realises that sooner or later he's going to have to pick a side.

The Good
Joaquin Phoenix is superbly cast as Bobby, bringing a sweaty edginess to the performance that means you're never quite sure which way he'll jump. He also has a strong onscreen rapport with Wahlberg, with whom he also worked on writer-director James Gray's previous feature, The Yards.

In addition, there's solid support from Eva Mendes as Bobby's girlfriend Amada – admittedly, she isn't given that much to do, but she looks damn fine doing it. (That said, there's a painfully obvious body double sequence near the beginning that's so laughable that they really shouldn't have bothered if Mendes wasn't going to agree to a topless scene).

The Great
Gray directs with a gritty style that suggests he'd have made a better job of the recent American Gangster than Ridley Scott did. He also orchestrates some terrifically suspenseful scenes where you really fear for the well-being of the characters.

The film also includes a genuinely stunning set piece, with a car chase-cum-shoot out that takes place during a torrential rainstorm and plays out entirely from Bobby's restricted point of view. The scene is beautifully directed and stands as one of the best scenes of the year.

Worth seeing?
We Own The Night is an engaging thriller with strong performances and a decent script, while Gray's confident direction ensures that his next film will be eagerly awaited. Highly recommended.

Film Trailer

We Own The Night (15)
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Content updated: 20/10/2017 20:53

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