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We Own The Night Movie Review

February 6, 2008

The crime thriller We Own The Night was released here three months late so we already know that it was a moderate success in the USA. In India it wouldn’t be expected to do brisk business being of the genre that it is.
The movie is a serious one. A story that we in Bollywood are all too familiar with…brother vs brother. One a cop, the other the bad guy. Well, not really. Bobby (Joaquin Phoenix) isn’t really the bad guy. He’s just leading a slightly wayward life. As the manager of a successful nightclub with a dubious clientele, he mixes his drinks with drugs, doesn’t have a home life…instead he spends time with his sexy girlfriend (Eva Mendes). The cop brother (Mark Wahlberg) heads a drug busting crime unit in the New York police.


Th trouble starts when the police identify this club as the hub of drugs. So there’s the clash between the brothers. Bobby objects even though he is not into drug dealing himself. What adds fuel to the fire is the presence of the dad (Robert Duvall) who is the deputy chief of the new York police. Both dad and brother put pressure on Bobby, try to make him feel guilty about his ways, but Bobby is unwilling to give up his fancy lifestyle. Lots of emotional tug of war here, between the two brothers and between father and son but the director, James Gray does it in Hollywood style. Despite the strong emotional undercurrents, the slick editing leaves you no time to think or to cry.

Joaquin Phoenix is the  hero and steals the show. Mark Wahlberg has a lesser role. A tad disappointing as I was expecting some action from Wahlberg.

The problem with this movie is that it’s all too predictable. Half an hour into the movie I was sure what the end would be or even how it was going to play out. Everything played out as expected and the lack of suspense killed the movie for me. I’ve seen too many clichéd Bollywood movies to enjoy this type of movie. Good thing it’s short, about 2 hours.
The movie can seem a bit slow to those who are looking for all out action but there is action too, lots of it. Mostly in the second half. The shoot-out scene at the end and the car chase are nicely handled.

Gray has managed to capture the atmosphere of the eighties well enough. And the editing was very good…but I didn’t think this movie was all that great, certainly not deserving of the three and a half stars that so many reviewers in India gave it. I was surprised that reviewers here gave this movie more stars than American Gangster because the latter is a better movie. And the acting in AG is better. The characters more convincing.

Sure, here it’s all good, but good in an average sort of way. A decent enough story, good dialogues, and good acting from all. The scenes are shot in a very realistic way and the movie moves fairly fast. But the movie was a trifle too dark for my liking and after watching it for an hour or so, I felt like walking out for a breather. The scenes seem repetitive. Overall, an average thriller, certainly not boring, but for me at least the entertainment quotient was missing.

(Photograph from the bbc)

4 Comments leave one →
  1. ulag permalink
    February 6, 2008 8:32 am

    I havent seen the movie yet but i can well imagine Mark Wahlberg as the tough talking police officer after his swear-a-minute role in The Departed. I think hes a very talented actor but hes being typecast in the same role after his success in The Departed. All of his roles have been cops and deadpan secret agents. His next big role is that of a renegade cop again in the movie version of the popular PC game “Max Payne”. Wish someone would probe into his talents further with meatier roles.

  2. Bharath permalink
    February 6, 2008 12:32 pm

    Movie is ok.. I was expecting some fast n creative action in this which wud have made this movie bit different..

    Eva Mendes is surprising!!! Can she act like this? I mean She was great here.

  3. February 6, 2008 1:01 pm

    Ulag, Mark Wahlberg played an emotional kind of role here and all the action was stolen by Joaquin Phoenix! I like Wahlberg too but was disappointed in the limited role that he had. The hero is Joaquin Phoenix and I think I should add (have added) that to the review. Thanks.

    Bharath, I too thought the movie was average. As for Eva Mendes, yeah she is good, but again typecast in these type of roles. I have seen her in several movies.

  4. February 6, 2008 5:21 pm

    i havent seen the movie too~~~but by your review it sounds like deewar~~

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