Bobby (Joaquin Phoenix) is living the high life in 1980s New York. As the owner of a Brooklyn discotheque frequented by Russian mobsters, his life is a pleasant mist of music, drugs and backroom fumbles with his smoking hot girlfriend (Eva Mendes). Just as well nobody finds out that his dad is the chief of police... A solid, rather uninspiring police thriller, We Own The Night tackles familiar manly issues of loyalty and brotherly love, with added gunfights.
The plot grumbles to life as Bobby's brother Joseph (a clean-cut Mark Wahlberg) raids his brother's club in an attempt to bust a notorious drug dealer. Bobby is forced to choose between a comfortable life on the verges of organised crime or a dangerous existence as a stool pigeon. "It's a war out there," daddy Robert Duvall reminds him. "You're either with us or you're with the drug dealers". We've been here many, many times before. Writer/director James Gray's film covers the same working class territory that has been worn smooth by more muscular movie-makers over the years. There are elements of Scorsese here (especially from The Departed), touches of John Frankenheimer and Abel Ferrara. The only thing missing is rampant Catholicism.
"STRIVES TOO HARD FOR MEANING"
So what can We Own The Night bring to this already overloaded table? Heartfelt performances from all the leads, certainly. Top 80s tunes and a thrilling car chase in the pouring rain. Gray's direction strives a little too hard for meaning, though, and you're left with the impression of a film that is making a profound statement about... well, something profound, anyway. The importance of family. The tough life of a cop. The dangers of hanging out with Russian coke dealers. That kind of thing.
We Own The Night is out in the UK on 14th December 2007.