DVD Review HTF DVD REVIEW: We Own the Night

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Scott McAllister, Feb 16, 2008.

  1. Scott McAllister

    Scott McAllister Stunt Coordinator

    Oct 30, 2002
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    We Own the Night

    Studio: Columbia Pictures
    Year: 2007
    Film Length: 117 minutes
    Rating: R
    Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
    Languages: English 5.1, French 5.1, Spanish 5.1
    Subtitles: English, French, Spanish
    MSRP: $19.99
    Cast: Joaquin Phoenix, Mark Wahlberg, Eva Mendes, Robert Duvall

    The Film

    Set during the 80’s battles between the Russian mafia and the New York Police, “We Own the Night” zeroes in on one small sub-story rather than tackle the overall situation. Enter Bobby Green (Joaquin Phoenix), up-and-coming club owner and overall popular on-the-street guy. His nightclub is becoming an ever more attractive venue for the Russian mafia drug trade that is sweeping the city. This is a bittersweet time for Bobby, since as his night spot becomes more in vogue, he must continually strive to hide his family’s long police history, going so far as to change his last name and break ties with them. The only person who knows his true familial connection is Bobby’s girlfriend Amanda Juarez (Eva Mendes).

    Bobby’s father Albert Grusinsky (Robert Duvall) is the Deputy Chief of police, and his brother Joseph Grusinsky (Mark Wahlberg) is a rising Captain and member of the cops’ anti-drug squad. When Bobby’s club is raided by Joe and his team, the local Russian mob members strike out for retaliation. Bobby is forced to choose between allowing the Russians to run a major drug smuggling ring through his club or to turn informant for the police and his estranged family.

    It’s difficult to expound upon the plot beyond this point as it would ruin many great moments of the film. Suffice to say, the movie is very good and has some great twists in store for the viewer. Out of many well done scenes, the police transportation of a witness across town with the Russians in pursuit is particularly heart racing, as is the movie’s climax.

    Picture Quality

    I loved the picture of this film, even though it was only a standard-def DVD. The resolution was sharp, but the whole film used a very muted color palette to great effect. You really get the feeling that this is the underbelly New York City’s crime world. It was gritty and personal but the film is not grainy at all, which I find to be relatively impressive.

    Audio Quality

    As a dialogue-heavy movie, the center channel plays a huge role in conveying the feel the filmmakers intended. There is a soundtrack, but it’s very sparse and only used to reinforce the impact of specific scenes. The LFE channel gets some use here, but not in the areas one would normally expect, like gunfights and car chases. Instead, it’s used to provide a guttural reinforcement to the more dramatic scenes of the film. Case in point, the low frequency heartbeat used while Bobby visits a cocaine lab.

    Special Features

    Along with the movie itself, the DVD also has several bonus featurettes, as well as a full length commentary with the writer/director James Gray. “Tension: Creating We Own the Night” is a wonderful example of how a behind-the-scenes short can be effective in providing additional information about the film and it’s cast. This featurette gives insight from the actors on how they get into character, their methods for working a scene, as well as the director’s take on his goals for the movie and achieving the right feel for the era.

    “Police Action: Filming Cops, Cars, and Chaos” goes into great detail on two of the film’s notable action sequences, giving great detail about the hazards of this type of work, the stuntmen and the camera tricks used to accomplish it.

    Finally, “A Moment in Crime: Creating Late 80’s Brooklyn” shares a wealth of data regarding the challenges of re-creating the music, clothing, and ambience of New York during the time period. I found the bit about providing wardrobe for over 300 extras to be rather humorous given the scale of the project.


    At it’s heart “We Own the Night” isn’t really about the drug trade, but rather a story about the bonds of family and the changes that occur in ourselves when somebody we care about hangs in the balance. I was totally sucked in by the performances from all the main actors as they all turn in strong and convincing portrayals. “We Own the Night” is a fine drama and would be at home in anybody’s collection. I give it my full recommendation.

  2. Simon Howson

    Simon Howson Screenwriter

    Feb 19, 2004
    Likes Received:
    Thanks for the review

    I have this on pre-order because it still hasn't made it to cinemas in Australia. The film's director James Gray is one of the best contemporary Hollywood filmmakers. His very first film Little Odessa is one of the best films of the 1990s, and his second film The Yards was very good as well. Now that he is out of a restrictive contract with the Weinstein brothers he should be able to make more films more frequently. I believe he is currently shooting another film.
  3. JohnRice

    JohnRice Lead Actor

    Jun 20, 2000
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    Real Name:
    I just watched this film. It was good enough, though the narrative was rather uneven. It seemed to jump alot. Possibly bad editing decisions. There was also one glaringly obvious plot issue I absolutely couldn't believe. It amazed me that Bobby (Phoenix) went on without turning away from a clearly unreliable friend.

    Decent effort, but not exactly successful.
  4. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Administrator

    Jul 3, 1997
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    Real Name:
    Ronald Epstein
    Watched this last night on Blu-ray.

    The Blu-ray presentation was fine, which I understand
    doesn't help many of you since this is a sDVD review.

    My point is that I was extremely immersed in the first 2/3
    of the film. However, the final 1/3 is where I completely
    understood why this film got so many mixed reviews. There
    is such an immense buildup for a terrific final act and
    unfortunately everything falls apart by film's end.
  5. Todd Stout

    Todd Stout Screenwriter

    Jul 13, 1999
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    Other than those two gripes I enjoyed We Own the Night.

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