We Own the Night

Movie review by
Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media
We Own the Night Movie Poster Image
Well-acted but very bloody crime drama.
  • R
  • 2007
  • 117 minutes

Parents say

age 11+
Based on 4 reviews

Kids say

age 16+
Based on 8 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive messages

A club manager with seedy connections refuses to help his police officer brother. A tragedy forces him to reconsider, and he becomes a driving force in helping his brother expose a major New York drug operation.


Lots of violence, including many bloody, gory scenes: Many characters are shot -- a couple of them at close range, execution style; one man has the back of his head shot off; a character slits his own throat rather than talk to the police; someone is beaten up by the police; a character jumps out the window and onto a fence; etc.


No sex scenes, but several scenes of Bobby and Amada making out/groping while clothed; two women dance topless on the club's bar; Joseph and his wife embrace.


Near-constant cursing: many, many uses of "f--k," "motherf----r," "s--t," "a--hole," etc.


NYPD, Sheraton hotel, Blondie's disco songs.

Drinking, drugs & smoking

Clubgoers and major characters do an assortment of drugs, including snorting cocaine, taking uppers/downers, etc. Many scenes include characters taking/dealing drugs or drinking.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that while young kids probably won't be interested, older teens who like crime dramas may be drawn to this Joaquin Phoenix-Mark Wahlberg film. Like most mob dramas, there's lots of strong language and a great deal of bloody violence and illicit behavior (drugs and alcohol are everywhere, especially nightclub scenes). In addition to the execution-style killings and police ambushes, there are a few scenes of a couple intensely making out and a shot of two topless, drunk women dancing at a club.

User Reviews

Adult Written byjersey steve April 9, 2008

Well done, but bleak. A disappointing downer.

Robert Duvall was coming to town for a talk here. I'd just seen his marvelous "The Apostle." So I picked it for him. He was very good--as always-... Continue reading
Adult Written bypurpleslayer57 April 9, 2008


It's a good movie.The actor's and actresses were great in this one. I was very interested in seeing the whole thing. Does have alot of sex,drugs and... Continue reading
Teen, 16 years old Written by-moviemaniac- November 28, 2008

Excellent! 5/5

I thought that this movie was excellent! I thought the storyline was very good and the cast were perfect! The language and violence wasn't too bad and I th... Continue reading
Teen, 17 years old Written byrobots in disguise April 9, 2008


The sex problem is only an issue in the first 10 or 15 minutes of the movie. There is a scene in a bedroom then half naked dancers in a club. After that there... Continue reading

What's the story?

In the crime thriller WE OWN THE NIGHT, Joaquin Phoenix plays Bobby, a 1980s Brooklyn nightclub manager who uses his mother's maiden name so his acquaintances won't discover he's the son and younger brother of an NYPD chief (Robert Duvall) and captain (Mark Wahlberg). He's living high off his club and his gorgeous Puerto Rican girlfriend Amada (Eva Mendes). When his brother's new task force raids the club, Bobby's two worlds tragically collide, forcing him to choose between the cops and the drug dealers working out of his club.

Is it any good?

There's something undeniably heart-stopping about watching an undercover cop or informant in action. At any moment the jig could be up and the fearless hero killed. Phoenix perfectly conveys the terror of infiltrating a crime organization, but the stakes never seem quite as high as they do for Leonardo DiCaprio in The Departed. It's difficult not to compare the two films, since both involve a character with a connection to cops and mobsters, bloody executions, a protagonist with a hidden identity, and a fine performance by Mark Wahlberg. But director James Gray's entertaining, poignant crime drama doesn't come close to matching the suspense, originality, or virtuoso acting of Martin Scorsese's Oscar winner.

It's utterly predictable that Bobby makes the "right" decision, but Phoenix's masterly way of portraying vulnerable, roguish men is engrossing, even as you can tell several scenes in advance what bloody confrontations lie ahead. Mendes is lovely, but Amada and Bobby's passion doesn't seem destined to withstand at-close-range executions and constant threats from Russian mobsters. The best scenes, as is to be expected, are those between Duvall, Phoenix, and Wahlberg. Each of them is so gifted that you end up wishing the film were less formulaic -- and less bloody.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the appeal of mob movies. Why are these violent movies so popular? What's so compelling about characters with one foot in the criminal world and one in law enforcement? Kids: Was the violence too graphic, or was it appropriate for the subject matter? How realistic do you think the film is?

Movie details

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