In the 1980s in New York City, drug related crime ran rampant and the police adopted the slogan "We Own the Night" as part of their efforts to battle the criminal element. In James Gray's film, we meet two brothers on both sides of this war. One is Joseph (Mark Wahlberg), quickly rising in the force and taking after their Police Chief father (Robert Duvall). The other is Bobby (Joaquin Phoenix), a successful nightclub manager with a loyal girlfriend (Eva Mendes) whose job description requires him to turn a blind eye to the illegal activities going on in his place of business. When the police declare war on the Russian family who own the club and pedal harsh narcotics there, Bobby's family is declared a target and he must decide on which side his loyalties lie. Gray captures this gritty picture in the same beautiful pallette that he used to film his likewise wonderful Two Lovers, which also starred Phoenix. In addition to the great look of the film, Gray offers us a compelling tale filled with no less the three heart pounding action sequences. Wahlberg delivers a performance I believe to be superior to that of his Oscar nominated work in The Departed. Here he plays a more complex character with a more nuanced portrayal. Backed up by the always assured Duvall. Phoenix's performance leaves a little to be desired and some later plot developments and character choices are extremely ridiculous but despite its flaws. We Own The Night is still an excellent police/family drama.
note: It was kind of neat to see former NYC mayor Ed Koch in a cameo playing himself early in the film.