Pros: Interesting story with good cast.
Cons: Slow at times. May offend some viewers.
The last few movies that I have seen in the theater have been more serious and dramatic. The latest one that I saw was We Own the Night.
In 1988 Bobby Green was living the high life managing a very popular night club. He had a beautiful girlfriend, Amada, was also enjoying their lifestyle, including using drugs. Bobby’s father Burt and brother Joseph were cops working to stop the Russian mafia from starting up a drug trade in the city. Joseph and Burt believed that Vadim Nezhinsky was selling drugs out of the club. After a raid on the club, Vadim targeted Joseph and Burt. Bobby was very upset by what happened and he decided to work with the police to catch Vadim, putting himself in danger.
Drugs played a very big part in We Own the Night and several characters were shown using different drugs, including cocaine. Bobby didn’t actually sell them, but he was frequently high on something until Vadim targeted his family. He said that he hadn’t known that drugs were being sold in the club, and it did seem like he truly was unaware of that. When he first heard of the possibility, he didn’t seem that concerned until it ended up impacted his life. Once that happened, it seemed to be a wake up call to him to straighten some things out and get his life on track. He wasn’t shown doing drugs anymore, though it also didn’t show if he struggled with quitting. Drugs, especially cocaine, were used a lot in the 1980's so I felt that aspect of the plot seemed believable. There were a few things that the cops did that I’m not sure were really accurate. Those few things didn’t make me enjoy the movie any less.
In addition to dealing with things connected to the drug trade, the movie was also focused on the issues between Bobby, Burt, and Joseph. The men didn’t have a close relationship when the movie started. Burt didn’t approve of the way Bobby was living and was very disappointed with the choices he’d made. That did make Burt act a bit judgmental toward Bobby at times. Joseph did his share of judging his brother as well and their relationship wasn’t close. It was even more strained after the raid on the club. When Burt and Joseph ended up in danger Bobby realized that even though he didn’t always agree with them, he loved them and didn’t want them to be hurt. Having part of the focus of the movie be on the relationship issues the men had did add some conflict and make the plot more complex than if it had just been focused on the drug things.
I have no personal knowledge of how drug dealers operate. I only know what I’ve learned from the news, other movies, or books. Everything I’ve seen or read about them before has indicated that they can be very violent, especially if their drug business is endangered. I think the way the drug dealers were acting in We Own the Night was believable, even considering what one of them did to help cover up his involvement. There was violence in several scenes, some of which was rather graphic. The movie could be too violent for some viewers. In addition to the violence, there was also a lot of swearing, including the word that rhymes with luck, used throughout the movie. It definitely earned the R rating and it isn’t a movie for children of any age to see.
We Own the Night started off with a scene involving a sexual situation between Bobby and Amada. It was basically a make out session, but it did get a bit explicit with where hands were going. It was very clear that the two of them had a sexual relationship and were on the verge of having sex. One of Amada’s bare breasts was shown and that was it for nudity. The scene was quite explicit for not being an actual sex scene and it could bother some people. There really wasn’t any reason for the scene and it didn’t add a thing to the movie. It seemed like just an excuse to have Eva Mendes flash one of her breasts instead of just looking like they were going to pop out of her shirt like in Ghost Rider. There were a few sexual comments made later in the movie as well a few other scenes that had just a tiny bit of sexual tension.
Bobby started off using drugs and didn’t care about much of anything beyond his work at the club. He wasn’t responsible and just didn’t see what was going on around him. As the movie progressed, he started realizing more things and he changed a lot, becoming more responsible. I think he was probably featured more than any of the other characters. Joaquin Phoenix was really good in the part. I’m not sure this performance was as good as the one he did in Walk the Line.
Burt and Joseph were also very important to the plot even though they weren’t featured as much as Bobby was. Burt and Joseph were both cops working to deal with the drug trade. Burt was a bit stubborn at times. Robert Duvall was fine in the part. Joseph was very focused on his work and that had strained his relationship with his brother. Mark Wahlburg was good in the part. Amada was around in several scenes with Bobby without actually doing much of anything. She was sort of just there. This is one of the more serious parts that Eva Mendes has had. Vadim was only in a few scenes, so Alex Veadov didn’t have too much to do. He was good and believable in the part. Several other drug dealers and cops were also around, but none of them were as important.
Robert Duvall - Burt
Eva Mendes - Amada
Joaquin Phoenix - Bobby
Alex Veadov - Vadim
Mark Wahlburg - Joseph
Written and Directed by James Gray
We Own the Night was a very good movie that is worth seeing for fans of the cast. It could have been a bit better, but it was still one of the better movies I’ve seen this year. I do think that Gone Baby Gone was better though.
This review is part of CaptainD’s Good Movies Write Off.