We Own the Night dir. by

18 December 2007

Cast: , , , , ,
Setting: ,
Rated :

Bobby is a night club manager. It is the 1980’s, New York. Life is good. Until the day his brother comes calling. Bobby’s brother, Joe, you see, is a cop. A drugs cop and he arrives in full on SWAT-mode at the club. This is not a way to ensure peaceful family get togethers. Especially considering that we already know there is tension in the family. You can just guess at the resulting tensions. But then the Russian bad-guys organise a hit on Joe. Bobby is stung into action and swears revenge. In this life or the next.[1]

You know, I’ve put with a lot for Joaquin. Ladder 40 springs to mind. That was some film to sit through[2] But this… *sigh* it is just dull dull dull.

Which is a pity as it could have been great. Look at those actors. Phoenix can act. Wahlberg and Duvall can do a hell of a lot better than the roles they were given in this film. And Mendes, well, all she had to do was look pretty and sometimes vaguely worried. Talk about your lack of female characters[3] Then again you could say talk about your lack of actual characters.

Even worse than a dull film, though, is one where you can see glimpses of what could have been. Potential it failed to live up to. Although I have to say that it looks great. The black and white stills were a great opening. I loved the murk and gloom of the car chase. Visually it works. But that is just one aspect of a film. I think the main problem is with the script. It is full of clichés and is so very predicable, which of course means that it is very hard to build up any tension. I’m also not sure what the director wanted of the audience. I’m not looking for a director to tell me exactly how to feel, but you like to have a hint at what is going on.

And yet despite that I think I’m a little fond of this film. It is boring and far too easy to sit back and watch rather than engage in. But it also has a great feel. Plus, you know, it Joaquin Phoenix, which is never a bad thing.

IMDb ; Metacritic ; Film Grotto ; Cinematical


  1. yeah yeah, that is vengeance, but whatever
  2. in the worst possible way
  3. cardboard cut-outs would be a generous description

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7 Responses

  1. red says:

    OOps. I'm so sorry you didn't like it. But you were going to see it even before I said it made my films of the year list, right? I was impressed by the overall feel of it too, and I guess when I saw it I was in the mood for something traditionally American.

  2. Fence says:

    Oh I was totally going to see it anyway, so you can erase your "oops" :)

    I think my 5 stars is probably a bit harsh, because there were bits I liked, it just didn't work overall for me.

  3. jean pierre says:

    ah, a pity. 'cause this looked promising… especially since, as you say, joaquin and duvall definitely can act.

  4. James says:

    Can't quite describe it, but there is something in the dullness that I thought was really great. Some films have a tinge of colour, or black and white only, this felt like it was underlayed by the droning of an engine for 2 hours and it worked. Walking up the grey concrete steps, lying low in that typical motel, the monotony of the dull voices, uninspired script, and the clich̩s Рto me it felt like this all belonged. A spark of clever dialogue, an elaborate twist, a great action scene, some beautiful scenery, etc., would have ruined the film.

    Maybe if I watched it again I would find out that this is just a bad movie, but it felt like for the full duration, fate was slowly grinding down the one true entity in the movie into dust (one true entity being Joachin Phoenix' character). btw, I was never convinced of JP's acting ability before this based on a few slightly dodgy performances (e.g., Signs, Gladiator) but he was great in this.

  5. Ooops, even worse than Ladder 40? I was going to face this one just because of the wonderful Joaquin but now I think I'll spare the cinema tkt and just revisit "The Village" or "Walk the Line" on DVD…

  6. anne says:

    Yeah, it felt like a boring and uninspired homage to movies that have been made before.

    But for some reason I kind of liked it. Only kind of though.

  7. Fence says:

    I have fond, if bored, memories lol