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We Own the Night

Gritty, macho, and lacking in grace
By BRETT MICHEL  |  October 10, 2007
2.5 2.5 Stars
SEXING THINGS UP: Eva Mendes adds femininity to James Gray's man-centric movie.

As the coked-up manager of the popular ’80s-era Brighton Beach nightclub El Caribe, Bobby Green (Joaquin Phoenix) — Grusinsky — has chosen to hide his Polish-American identity from his employers. Why? Perhaps because James Gray’s film is in dire need of plausibility, given that Bobby’s father, Burt (Robert Duvall), is the deputy chief of police and his brother, Joseph (Mark Wahlberg), leads the task force that’s trying to nail the very same Russian crime syndicate that uses El Caribe as a front for its drug operations. Gray tread this territory of fathers, sons, cops, and mobsters in 1994’s Little Odessa and 2000’s The Yards (also starring Phoenix and Wahlberg), and the over-familiarity compromises his French Connection–filtered vision. Eva Mendes (aided by her nipples) sexes things up as Bobby’s girlfriend, but this is a man’s movie: gritty, macho, and lacking in grace.
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 See all articles by: BRETT MICHEL