Monday, March 30, 2020

Movie Monday: We Own the Night

Saturday night, my husband and I decided to have a wild night out. Just kidding, of course! We stayed in and got wild by watching a movie on TV and eating Paleo brownie sundaes. Do we know how to party or what? We were looking for a good mystery or thriller, so I was just looking up random movie titles on Amazon and Netflix from our "want-to-watch" list of almost 400 films! We ended up with a crime thriller from 2007, We Own the Night, starring Joaquin Phoenix and Mark Wahlberg. It was dark and suspenseful, with excellent acting.

Wahlberg plays Joseph Grusinsky, an NYPD officer in the 1980's who has just been promoted to Captain of the Narcotics Division. His father is NYPD Deputy Chief Burt Grusinsky, played by Robert Duvall, who congratulates him onstage at a big celebration. Joe's brother, Bobby, played by Joaquin Phoenix, took an entirely different path in life and now manages a successful night club, La Caribe. He uses an assumed name, Bobby Green, so no one knows that he's related to the NYPD's first family. Bobby does love his family, though, and he shows up for Joe's promotion party, bringing his girlfriend, Amada Juarez (played by Eva Mendes), to meet his family for the first time. The nightclub Bobby runs is owned by Marat Muzhayev, played by Moni Moshonov, who treats Bobby like a son and welcomes him into his family, where Bobby eats meals and plays with Marat's grandkids. Joe and his dad try to warn Bobby that his club is at the center of a huge drug ring they are trying to bust, and one of his top customers is running it. Bobby's not involved in the drug trade, though he does hang out with the guy in the middle of it, and he's stunned when his club is raided a few days later. Joe and his dad want Bobby to help inform on the drug ring, and at first, Bobby says no, until events escalate and he sees that his family is in danger from the Russian mafia. Then, all three Grusinsky men end up in the midst of a nightmarish drug war, up against powerful criminals, in a life or death battle.

Although the plot here is a little bit complicated, we had no trouble following it and were soon caught up in the suspenseful action. Bobby is a bit misguided, but you can see that he's a good guy, just having fun and living a life of freedom and parties. That all comes to an abrupt end when he realizes that his family is in danger; his loyalties are never in question. Phoenix brings his characteristic intensity to this role so that you can really feel Bobby's apathy, reluctance to get involved, and his love for both Amada and his family. The plot is filled with twists and turns that take you by surprise, and a growing sense of tension that grips you from beginning to end, all with a great 80's soundtrack in the background. True, this film is a bit dark, though it's not, as my husband first feared, one of those movies where everyone dies at the end! It's an action-packed crime thriller with surprising emotional depth and outstanding acting from an all-star cast.

We Own the Night is now available on IMDb TV, which we watched through Amazon (for free, with brief, limited ads).

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