We Own the Night A few rare dramas about crime, honor, and justice — The Godfather , The Verdict , Munich — have attained a mythological quality. The writer-director… We Own the Night A few rare dramas about crime, honor, and justice — The Godfather , The Verdict , Munich — have attained a mythological quality. The writer-director… 2007-10-12 R PT117M Drama Mystery and Thriller Joaquin Phoenix Mark Wahlberg Robert Duvall Eva Mendes Columbia Pictures
Movie Review

We Own the Night (2007)

MPAA Rating: R
Mark Wahlberg, Joaquin Phoenix, ... | STARE MASTERS A cop (Mark Wahlberg) and his shady brother (Joaquin Phoenix) face off in We Own the Night , a crime story that feels…
Image credit: Ann Joyce
STARE MASTERS A cop (Mark Wahlberg) and his shady brother (Joaquin Phoenix) face off in We Own the Night, a crime story that feels a bit forced
EW's GRADE
B-

Details Release Date: Oct 12, 2007; Rated: R; Length: 117 Minutes; Genres: Drama, Mystery and Thriller; With: Joaquin Phoenix and Mark Wahlberg; Distributor: Columbia Pictures

A few rare dramas about crime, honor, and justice — The Godfather, The Verdict, Munich — have attained a mythological quality. The writer-director James Gray is desperate to make a movie that would join their ranks, but the trouble with his films, which include Little Odessa, The Yards, and the new We Own the Night, is that he doesn't earn mythology. He imposes it from above.

Set in New York in the high party days of 1988, We Own the Night tells the charged tale of two brothers. Bobby (Joaquin Phoenix), a dissolute hellion with a crooked smile and a diamond stud in his ear, manages a vast nightclub built out of an old movie theater. Joseph (Mark Wahlberg), his opposite number, is a decorated cop assigned to a narcotics task force, which leads him to shake down a drug dealer operating out of Bobby's club. I won't divulge more, except to say that the film is full of showy set pieces, and a handful of them are smashingly done. A variation on the guy-wearing-a-wire-during-a-drug-deal bit had me sucking in my breath; a car chase shot in the drenching rain is violent, tumultuous, and original. And yet...the story is too patterned and too contrived. (How could a hustler like Bobby be this naive about the club's ''kindly'' owner?) It's like a more abstract Godfather in moral reverse, with one key figure undergoing a transformative spiritual rebirth I never fully bought. Gray is a far better director than he is a writer. He's got the talent to make great movies. He just needs to stop trying to. B-

Originally posted Oct 10, 2007 Published in issue #959-960 Oct 19, 2007 Order article reprints
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