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We Own the Night



Well-acted but very bloody crime drama.
  • Review Date: February 11, 2008
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 2007
  • Running Time: 117 minutes

What parents need to know

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.

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.

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.

Families can talk 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

Theatrical release date:October 12, 2007
DVD release date:February 11, 2008
Cast:Eva Mendes, Joaquin Phoenix, Mark Wahlberg
Director:James Gray
Studio:Columbia Tristar
Run time:117 minutes
MPAA rating:R
MPAA explanation:strong violence, drug material, language, some sexual content and brief nudity.

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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 think it was appropriate to put it in to capture the rough setting. The message of sticking with you family no matter what is really important and I was glad to see the bond between Bobby (Joaquin Phoenix)and Joseph (Mark Wahlberg). The last few moments of the film when Joseph tells Bobby that he loves him very much is quite touching and makes the message clear. All in all, an excellent movie. I'd recommend it to anyone.
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--, and the acting generally solid. The film well crafted. But there seemed precious little to redeem this sordid tale of drug lords, and free wheeling discos. The police are a serious, believable counter force for good. But the "black sheep" brother's "conversion" is weak, and not enough to balance off the general social squalor. In the end, morally hopeless, pointless--for kids or adults
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 the movie is pretty clean in that area. The violence does get graphic but its nothing special for an R-rated movie. There are over 100 F words and it sounds like they were trying to put in as many as possible. It's a gangster/police movie so its gonna have drugs and stuff and the whole movie is based around arresting a drug dealer. If your used to R rated violence, skip the first part of the movie, and aren't affected by language then this is a good movie. Otherwise back off.


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