Sun 18 Nov 2012
There is a strong feeling of deja vu planning on the viewers of We Own the Night (the slogan of the NYPD in the 80s, while fighting for the control of the streets of the Big Apple at night). The story and the characters are pretty much borrowed from similar movies where brothers or childhood friends find themselves on opposed parts of the cops vs. mafia game. The atmosphere and characters are very much similar to other stories about the New York gangs or police academies. The combination of family drama and Mafia intrigue is also a classical theme.
So the story of the film looks very much like an 80s story. The problem is that it does not only refer to the 80s but it also feels like a film from the 80s. This may have been in part intentional, a decision by director James Gray that I respect, as it provides an air of authenticity to the way the streets, the clubs, the police stations are being brought to life. Some of the acting also fits into the same vision, as Robert Duvall as the head of the policemen dynasty is an actor who comes to us from the 80s, and Mark Wahlberg fits well in the patern, as well as the Israeli Moni Moshonov distributed as a Russian padrone. The out of pattern acts are those of Joaquin Phoenix, a huge actor who hardly can fit in any pattern and of the very sexy Eva Mendes who plays his girlfriend.
Worth seeing? Maybe, if you really are interested in another family drama mixed with gangsters vs. cops intrigues which does not really raise to the level of Scorsese, and if you like films from the 80s. But, wait a moment, if you really like films from the 80s why not renting or looking for one of the real stuff on the cable movie channels?