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.

This review of We Own the Night was written by

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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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.
Teen, 14 years old Written byMy1ten0baby January 7, 2014


This movie s not for any kid. Too much gun violence, sexual stuff, stupid language, money, and drinking. This better not be for anyone young as you see here. This rating is not a good rating quality and it is not the exact one for kids.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much consumerism
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Teen, 14 years old Written byStevie111 July 2, 2012

Mature crime drama for adults only

Strong suggestive scenes and nudity. Lots of graphic violence, languiage, and drug use. Not for kids, maybe an older teen or mature teen.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking


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