We Own the Night (film)

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We Own the Night
We Own The Night poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byJames Gray
Produced by
Written byJames Gray
Music byWojciech Kilar
CinematographyJoaquín Baca-Asay
Edited byJohn Axelrad
Distributed by
Release date
  • May 25, 2007 (2007-05-25) (Cannes)
  • October 12, 2007 (2007-10-12) (United States)
Running time
117 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$21 million[2]
Box office$55 million

We Own the Night is a 2007 American action thriller film[3] written and directed by James Gray and starring Joaquin Phoenix, Mark Wahlberg, Eva Mendes and Robert Duvall. It is the third film directed by Gray, and the second to feature Phoenix and Wahlberg together, the first being 2000's The Yards. The title comes from the motto of the NYPD's Street Crimes Unit, which disbanded in 2002.

The film premiered May 25, at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival.[4] It was released in the United States on October 12, 2007. The film received mixed reviews from critics and grossed $55 million.


In 1988 Brooklyn, New York, Bobby Green (Joaquin Phoenix) is the manager of the El Caribe nightclub in Brighton Beach, which is frequented by Russian mobster and drug lord Vadim Nezhinski (Alex Veadov) and owned by Vadim's uncle Marat Buzhayev (Moni Moshonov).

Bobby has distanced himself from his father, NYPD Deputy Chief Burt Grusinsky (Robert Duvall), and his brother, Captain Joseph Grusinsky (Mark Wahlberg). Bobby uses his mother's maiden name, Green, as his last name and stays on the sidelines enjoying a hedonistic life with his girlfriend Amada Juarez (Eva Mendes) and best friend Louis "Jumbo" Falsetti (Danny Hoch).

When Joseph leads a police raid on El Caribe in hope of arresting Vadim, Bobby refuses to cooperate. The incident strains Bobby's relationship with his father and brother even more, and Bobby and Joseph come to blows.

The police are unsuccessful in making a case against Vadim, who decides to retaliate. The next evening, Joseph is shot by a masked assailant and his unmarked police cruiser is firebombed. Joseph survives the ambush and is hospitalized for four months. Vadim, unaware of Bobby's family ties, confides that the Chief will be the next victim. Bobby resolves to help the police and, without his father's knowledge, goes undercover inside Vadim's cocaine-smuggling operation with a police listening device hidden in a cigarette lighter. The device is discovered and Bobby narrowly escapes being murdered as the police raid the operation and arrest Vadim.

Bobby and Amada are placed in protective police custody and their relationship begins to deteriorate. When Vadim escapes custody while being transported to a hospital, Burt and the police prepare to move Bobby and Amada to a new location. During a torrential rainstorm the police convoy is intercepted by Vadim's men, and during a chaotic car chase Burt is fatally shot. When he sees his father's body, Bobby blacks out in the rain.

The police take Bobby and Amada back to their motel near Kennedy Airport. Bobby wakes up a few hours later and finds Joseph in the motel room. Joseph tells him that their father has been shot and killed. At the funeral, a colleague of Joseph's, Captain Jack Shapiro (Tony Musante), gives him Burt's Korean War medal. Bobby is told that a Russian shipment of cocaine is arriving sometime in the coming week.

To avenge his father, Bobby decides to officially join the police force without the consent of Amada, who leaves him. After he is sworn into the NYPD, Bobby learns the true involvement of Jumbo and Marat. He and Joseph organize a final sting operation, set for April 4, 1989. During the raid, Joseph is emotionally incapacitated by the memory of his shooting and cannot continue. Vadim flees into the reed beds, and the police toss in flares to smoke him out. As the beds are engulfed in flame and smoke, Bobby runs in to find Vadim himself, ignoring the other officers' pleas that he wait. Bobby shoots Vadim in the chest, mortally wounding him.

Nearly a year after the raid on El Caribe, Bobby, now in uniform, graduates from the NYPD Police Academy to become a full-time police officer. Before the ceremony, Joseph reveals to Bobby that he has decided to switch to a job in the administration sector, since the shooting led him to realize that he needs to spend more time with his children. As the chaplain announces that Bobby is to give the valedictorian address, Bobby thinks he sees Amada in the audience, but it turns out to be an illusion. Bobby and Joseph express their brotherly love.



Critical response[edit]

On Rotten Tomatoes, 57% of 153 critics gave the film positive reviews, with an average rating of 5.8/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "Bland characters, clichéd dialogue and rickety plotting ensure We Own The Night never lives up to its potential."[5] On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 59 out of 100, based on 33 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[6] Audiences surveyed by CinemaScore gave the film a grade "B-" on an A+ to F scale.[7]

Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times wrote: "This is an atmospheric, intense film, well acted, and when it's working it has a real urgency."[8] Peter Travers of Rolling Stone called it "defiantly, refreshingly unhip" and gave it 3 out of 4.[9]

Box office[edit]

In its opening weekend in the United States and Canada, the film grossed $10.8 million in 2,362 theaters, ranking #3 at the box office.[10] The film grossed a total of $54.5 million worldwide — $28.6 million in the United States and Canada and $26.5 million in other territories.[2]

Sony Pictures paid $11 million for the rights to distribute the film domestically.[11] The studio released it through its Columbia Pictures division.

By June 2017, the film had totaled $22 million in DVD sales[12] and $32 million in DVD rentals.[13]


  1. ^ "We Own The Night (2007)". AFI Catalog of Feature Films. Retrieved 19 February 2021. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  2. ^ a b "We Own the Night". Box Office Mojo. IMDb. Retrieved March 5, 2008.
  3. ^ "WE OWN THE NIGHT SUSPENSE, ACTION". Sony Pictures Entertainment.
  4. ^ "We Own the Night". Cannes Film Festival. Retrieved December 20, 2009.
  5. ^ "We Own The Night (2007)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved March 7, 2021.
  6. ^ "We Own the Night Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved July 5, 2020.
  7. ^ "WE OWN THE NIGHT (2007) B-". CinemaScore. Archived from the original on February 6, 2018.
  8. ^ Ebert, Roger (October 11, 2007). "We Own the Night movie review (2007)". Chicago Sun-Times.
  9. ^ Travers, Peter (19 October 2007). "We Own the Night". Rolling Stone.
  10. ^ "We Own the Night: Weekend Box Office Results". Box Office Mojo. IMDb. Retrieved March 5, 2008.
  11. ^ Lim, Dennis (September 9, 2007). "An Auteur for a Neglected New York City". The New York Times. The New York Times Company.
  12. ^ "We Own the Night (2007): Video Sales". The Numbers. Nash Information Services. Retrieved 2017-06-20.
  13. ^ "We Own the Night: DVD / Home Video Rentals". Box Office Mojo. IMDb. Retrieved June 20, 2017.

External links[edit]