We Own the Night

Starring: Joaquin Phoenix, Eva Mendes, Mark Wahlberg, Robert Duvall

Movie Mind Says:  Rent It

When originally watching the trailer for We Own the Night, The Movie Mind was worried that it would mimic The Departed too much to have its own identity. I mean, on the surface, you have a similar drama of undercover guys crossed up on both sides of the law. Throw in a few double crosses and a hot annoying chick and you have a virtual pseudo-sequel. Unfortunately, it didn’t hold true and does not live anywhere up to the standard set by The Departed.

“Marky Mark” turns in a very lackluster performance as Joseph Grusinsky, the hard-charging cop on the career fast-track trying to emulate his high ranking police chief father (Robert Duvall). It literally seemed like he was giving half effort most of the movie, and if the defense is that his character was brain dead for the majority of the movie, then get him an Oscar! Otherwise, it’s a cop-out role; pardon the pun. Eva Mendes was your run-of-the-mill club-going girlfriend of the party-animal Bobby Green (Joaquin Phoenix), who does his best to carry the rest of the cast. It seems like the role may have been an easy portrayal of her weekends through the teenage years. The only real “acting” scene she had was a bomb, in which she and Green (Phoenix) have a very awkward, if not forced, fight about Green applying for a police job. Bobby Duvall plays an accurate hard-ass police chief, but I get a kick out of him in just about anything he does.

There is an interesting mix of bad guys in this flick, and for about three-quarters of the movie they hold the audience. The action scenes were great, and I would have been fine with more of them. Bobby Green goes through less of transformation from bad guy to good guy, and more of realization that he wasn’t actually a bad guy to begin with. He was a kid in the drug scene who had an ambitious goal of taking over New York, one club at a time we are only to assume. Still, one of the biggest pet peeves of The Movie Mind is when the filmmakers don’t give the viewers any credit at all. They feel the need to give the audience virtual thought bubbles over characters’ heads, or even footnotes to explain what is happening because we are too dumb to figure it out. During Bobby Green’s “realization” and change of careers, he drops the slick open shirts for a buttoned up version and sweater vest. Then off comes the expensive earring, and next thing you know they might as well give him a pocket-protector to slap us in the face with his “character change”.

If this film was predictable, it was because the plotline tries to give a believable, real-life story feel. This is fine and worked for most of the film. However, the ending was dull, predictable, and downright boring. Even March of the Penguins took a more artistic license with how they portrayed the ending. Maybe this makes The Movie Mind a hypocrite since he thought that the ending of The Departed was too Reservoir Dogs-like and too over-the-top, but I’ll take that creativity over this ending any day. While we know what is going to happen, I would much prefer to see a gruesome far-fetched ending then the film version of ESPN paintball coverage. I never thought I would long for CSI Miami’s Horatio Cane and his uber-cheesy one-liners at the beginning of each show. At least he says SOMETHING! 

Overall a decent, exciting movie, but you would be much better served walking out of the movie 15 minutes too early and letting your imagination create the ending. Maybe it will show the filmmakers we deserve more credit after all.
Submitted: 10-27-07

If You Like This You Should Watch:  The Departed
Better Then:  Four Brothers
Worse Then:  The Boondock Saints

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