Wednesday, June 25, 2008

We Own the Night

James Gray's crime drama set in 1980's New York drew a few comparisons to The Departed, but I don't really see it. Everything about that movie was more entertaining, from the characters to the dialogue to the twists to the violence. We Own the Night does a few things right, but it was just generally inferior. It's about the two kids of a police chief played by Robert Duvall, one who followed in his footsteps and one who became involved in the seedy business of running a night club. The latter is the main character, played fairly well by Joaquin Phoenix. He wants to become a big player in the city's night life but things change when some Russians who frequent his place cross the police. Mark Wahlberg is the other brother, but he had a smaller part than I expected, absent for a significant chunk of the film and not playing that significant a role in the plot in general.

I'm not sure quite what kind of movie it wanted to be. It was a crime story, with drugs, sex and violence, but it just felt kind of small. There weren't a lot of notable characters, and it felt like a study of Phoenix' character at times. It wasn't bad, it was just a bit dull. Eva Mendez plays his girlfriend, but her part is also of little consequence as she just disappears after a certain scene. The climax wasn't very exciting either, resolving pretty quickly. There was one significant twist, but it was entirely expected. There was one scene that was very good, a car chase that was unlike any other that I've ever seen. It took place during the rain, and it just had a much more realistic and unsettling atmosphere than you usually see in parts that usually try to be loud and crazy. Other than that, it just seemed a bit off in general. I don't think this is really Gray's wheelhouse.

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