Monday, December 1, 2008
We Own the Night
2007 crime drama starring Mark Wahlberg and Joaquin Phoenix and written/directed James Gray whose only other flick in the last 14 years was The Yards, a crime drama starring Mark Wahlberg and Joaquin Phoenix. Gray also has a romantic comedy coming out in February starring an actor named Joaquin Phoenix. Wait, is anyone else detecting a pattern here? Anyway, jokes aside, We Own the Night is a rough, gripping movie about family. It starts with a father and his two sons, who are pretty much all that's left of their family, as the mom is now deceased and no one else is ever even mentioned. The father is a police chief and one of the sons (Wahlberg) is a police captain. Phoenix, however, is a manager at a bar/nightclub and lives a life that's pretty simple and hedonistic. His life doesn't have the drama that his father/brother's do and they resent him for it. All of a sudden stuff hits the fan and the already fragile family they have going on becomes even more threatened. You see a regular at Phoenix's club has put a hit out on his brother AND father and an assassin has shot Wahlberg. The only reason Phoenix's character is ok is that he's changed his name and no one even knows who his father or brother is. So he has a chance, he can go on living his life and not worry about them, or he can (as my father used to say) rally the troops and take up his family's fight. Problem is, his family's fight is the fight of the police, and that means he basically has to abandon his life/lifestyle. So will he forsake himself for the sake of the family or will he continue on and turn his back on them in the biggest way he could? That's basically the movie. All three of the leads (which includes a great turn by Robert Duvall), and Eva Mendes, are great and truly exude the weight of such a heavy situation. And man is it heavy. This film has a tone and a tension that reminded me of suspense greats like Seven and Psycho and there are times in this movie (like a scene in a secret drug lab) that truly had my gut in a knot. It's definitely dark but the message is good and if you're looking for something that straddles that line well, this is the movie for you. If that's not your bag, then you may wanna skip it.