Rus­sian roulette

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - Filmreviews - MICHAEL DWYER

THE third thriller writ­ten and di­rected by James Gray, We Own the Night re­turns him to the mi­lieu of his aus­pi­cious de­but, Lit­tle Odessa – among Rus­sian im­mi­grants in the Brighton Beach area of Brook­lyn – and re­unites him with Joaquin Phoenix and Mark Wahlberg, the stars of his sec­ond fea­ture, The Yards.

The two play brothers in We Own the Night, which is set in 1988. Phoenix is Bobby, the swag­ger­ing, co­caine-snort­ing man­ager of a thriv­ing Rus­sianowned night­club that’s a haven for drug deal­ers. Wahlberg is Joseph, an earnest man of prin­ci­ple who has fol­lowed their ded­i­cated po­lice chief fa­ther, Bert (Robert Du­vall), onto the force.

Bert strongly dis­ap­proves of the com­pany Bobby keeps and that he has taken his mother’s sur­name, al­though that con­ve­niently hides his fam­ily’s po­lice con­nec­tions from the crim­i­nals. Bert gives Bobby an ul­ti­ma­tum that sums up the sto­ry­line and il­lus­trates the arch­ness of the di­a­logue: “Sooner or later you’re go­ing to have to be with us or the drug deal­ers, be­cause there’s a war out there.”

The brothers are at odds with each other un­til an at­tempt on Joseph’s life forces Bobby to re­alise that blood is thicker than wa­ter. How­ever, his overnight trans­for­ma­tion is too abrupt to be con­vinc­ing in a movie that is dis­ap­point­ingly con­ven­tional and mostly pre­dictable, and lacks the moral com­plex­ity at the core of Lit­tle Odessa, which re­mains Gray’s most sat­is­fy­ing film to date.

We Own the Night is partly re­deemed by the sweaty ten­sion with which Gray injects a num­ber of well-staged set­pieces, in par­tic­u­lar an edgy un­der­cover op­er­a­tion and an ex­cit­ing multi-ve­hi­cle chase through tor­ren­tial rain.

Like fa­ther, like son: Du­vall and Wahlberg

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Ireland

© PressReader. All rights reserved.