We Own the Night

 

We Own the Night is a 2007 American action thriller film directed and written by James Gray, co-produced by and starring Joaquin Phoenix and Mark Wahlberg, and co-starring 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 on May 25, 2007 at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival, and was released in the United States on October 12, 2007, ultimately receiving mixed reviews from critics and grossing $55 million.

 

In Brooklyn, New York in fall 1988, Robert "Bobby" Grusinsky is the manager of the El Caribe nightclub in Brighton Beach, which is owned by his boss, fur importer Marat Buzhayev, whose nephew, mobster Vadim Nezhinski, is a patron of the joint. Estranged from his father Albert ("Burt"), an NYPD Deputy Chief, and brother Joseph, a newly-minted Captain, he uses his deceased mother Carol's maiden name, Green, as a part of his alias on the job and opts to instead hang out with his girlfriend Amada Juarez and best friend Louis "Jumbo" Falsetti, aiming to run his own club in Manhattan. Joseph, who has just been named to be the head of a narcotics unit, warns him that he will lead a bust on the spot with the aim of netting Vadim.

 

Bobby is jailed for possessing drugs and resisting arrest in the wake of the raid on November 22, 1988, souring his ties with Burt and Joseph, who both bail him out of jail the next day; he and Joseph then come to blows in a quite harsh feud. That evening, a masked Vadim shoots Joseph in the face outside of his house and firebombs his car, causing him to be hospitalized at Jamaica Hospital Medical Center for 4 months. Bobby agrees to infiltrate Vadim's drug operation, and when the transceiver hidden in his lighter is exposed, he escapes as Vadim is nabbed by the police.

 

The bond between Bobby and Amada decays while they are in hiding at the Cue Motor Inn, and they prep for a move to the Corona Hotel once Vadim flees from Rikers Island on March 20, 1989. In the midst of a heavy deluge, his men ambush the three-car escort, one of whom fatally wounds Burt with a shot to the neck. Bobby blacks out in the rain upon seeing his body, waking up a few hours later lying atop a bed in a suite at the Sheraton near Kennedy Airport; he breaks down and sobs in Joseph's arms as Joseph confirms that Burt is dead. At the funeral, Captain Jack Shapiro, a colleague of the family, donates Burt's Korean War combat ribbon to Joseph and informs him of a Russian cocaine shipment that is set to arrive in the area in the coming week.

 

Upset by Bobby's choice to become a cop to avenge his father's tragic murder, Amada cuts him out of her life because he opted to pursue such a risky change of career without first asking for her input or consent. Sworn into the force due to his "special knowledge", provided that he will undergo his required training at the Police Academy as soon as the case is finished, he questions Jumbo on the night of April 2, 1989, who admits that he betrayed him by leaking word from Amada re the pair's location to Marat. The brothers plan a final sting for that Tuesday, as he recounts that per Jumbo, Marat's grandchildren, who ride horses at Floyd Bennett Field on Tuesdays, act as his couriers. During the sting, Joseph is paralyzed by the memory of his prior injury and is thus unable to proceed, and so Bobby chases Vadim into the reed beds. As the police, having cuffed Marat, toss flares, he goes inside the beds, defying pleas to wait until Vadim emerges. He then finds and kills him with a blow to the chest from his shotgun.

 

On November 3, 1989, Bobby, now in uniform, graduates from the Academy with honors. Prior to the ceremony, Joseph reveals to him that in light of his attack, he is to be taking up a post in the Personnel Bureau so that he can freely spend more time at home with his wife and 3 children. As the chaplain opens by stating in his remarks that Bobby is to deliver the valedictorian address after the invocation, noting that he was the highest academic achiever of his class, Bobby eyes a young lady seated in the crowd who bears a faint likeness to Amada and accepts their love affair is now over. During the invocation, the siblings, seated side by side on stage, softly express their brotherly love, ending the film.