We Own the Night

Year: 2007
Production Co: 2929 Productions
Studio: Columbia Pictures
Director: James Gray
Producer: Mark Cuban/Todd Wagner/Mark Wahlberg/Joaquin Phoenix
Writer: James Gray
Cast: Joaquin Phoenix, Mark Wahlberg, Eva Mendes, Robert Duvall
Blazing, blistering, heartbreaking and searing aren't usually adjectives you can usually apply to a car chase, but when your heart is in your throat as the villain's car pulls alongside the one carrying Bobby (Phoenix) in the driving rain and blows his driver away, you'll know you're watching something special.

It's one of the many scenes that grip you in a way you never thought a police drama would, and writer/director Gray has bought together several iconic elements in a period setting, a rock solid dramatic conflict, and none of it could have been more perfect.

Among the career cop family dynasties trying to clean up the grimy Brooklyn streets in the late 1980s, squeaky clean Joe (Wahlberg) is following in his legendary father Bert's (Duvall) footsteps, already becoming a highly decorated officer and leading up a new narcotics unit that promises to rid the neighbourhoods of scumbags like Russian mobster and drug kingpin Nezhinski when they can pin something on him.

Nezhinski is a frequent patron of a hip nightclub that happens to be managed by Bobby, brother to Joe and son to Bert and the black sheep of the family with his free-wheeling lifestyle, endless parties and hot tamále girlfriend Amada (Mendes).

When Joe busts up Bobby's joint to send a message to the low life community, Bobby's furious when he and many of his best clientele are hauled off to the slammer for the night. But things take a turn for much worse when Joe is gunned down outside his house soon after, left barely alive.

Keeping his family connections under wraps, Bobby is mostly safe, but when Nezhinski brazenly offers to show Bobby his drug operation in case he wants a slice and admits to whacking Joe and planning to hit plenty of other cops including Bert, Bobby has no choice but to turn to his family to protect them.

The sting where he goes into Nezhinski's smackhouse will have your heart in your throat, and after it all goes bad, there's a price on Bobby and Amada's heads that reduces them to hiding in police protection. When it's revealed Nezhinski has also escaped prison with an obvious score to settle, the tension moves up a dozen notches and Bobby has to join his family to stand against the crooks.

Realistic violence, a clever script, and good acting all make it a treat.

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