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We Own the Night


Stars: Joaquin Phoenix, Mark Wahlberg, Robert Duvall, Eva Mendes, Danny Hoch, Alex Veadov, Tony Musante

Director: James Gray

Crime fans will probably enjoy this sometimes sluggish drama, since it does have its moments, notably in a couple of imaginative action scenes towards the end. The title refers to the motto of the New York police at the end of the 1980s, before Mayor Rudy Giuliani came along and helped make the city's streets a safer place to be.

In a family of cops, Bobby (Phoenix) is the black sheep, running a huge and flashy disco, El Caribe, where businessmen mix with gangsters and drug dealers, as well as ordinary New Yorkers. Bobby also has a super-sexy relationship with girlfriend Amada (Mendes) and all in all leads a lifestyle which gets right up the nose of his cop brother (Wahlberg) and his father (Duvall), the city's legendary deputy chief oif police.

The reason why the police are quite so violent towards him when they raid the joint may have something to do with this, but it serves to set the rest of the plot in motion, as Wahlberg is shot in revenge for his assault on a Russian dope dealer, Nezhinski (Veadov), and Phoenix finds himself dangerously undercover for the cops to bring the bad guy to justice.

Phoenix, Wahlberg and director Gray are reunited from their terrific The Yards, but this is a lesser film, redeemed by a scary car chase in a rainstorm and by a climactic pursuit after the villain through a field of high rushes and grass. Phoenix and Duvall are pretty good, but Wahlberg and Mendes offer little more than a single expression.

David Quinlan

USA 2007. UK Distributor: Universal. Colour by FotoKem.
117 minutes. Not widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 1, Violence/Horror 1, Drugs 2, Swearing 2.

Review date: 10 Dec 2007