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We Own the Night

Theatrical release poster
Directed by James Gray
Produced by Marc Butan
Joaquin Phoenix
Mark Wahlberg
Nick Wechsler
Written by James Gray
Starring Joaquin Phoenix
Mark Wahlberg
Eva Mendes
Robert Duvall
Music by Wojciech Kilar
Cinematography Joaquín Baca-Asay
Editing by John Axelrad
Distributed by Columbia Pictures (US)
Universal Pictures (UK)
Release date(s) Cannes Film Festival:
May 25, 2007
North America:
October 12, 2007
United Kingdom:
December 14, 2007
February 28, 2008
Running time 117 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $21 million [1]
Gross revenue $54,926,886

We Own the Night is a 2007 American crime drama film 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 film to feature Phoenix and Wahlberg together, the first being The Yards. The film's 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.[2] It was released October 12, 2007 in the United States and Canada. It was released in the United Kingdom on December 14, 2007 and was released in Australia on February 28, 2008.



The film is set in Brooklyn, New York from November 1988 through early April 1989. Bobby Green (Joaquin Phoenix) is the manager of a successful El Caribe nightclub in Brighton Beach that is frequented by Russian gangster and drug lord Vadim Nezhinski (Alex Veadov).

Bobby has distanced himself from his police chief father Burt Grusinsky (Robert Duvall) and his police captain brother Joseph Grusinsky (Mark Wahlberg), preferring to remain on the sidelines and enjoy a hedonistic life with his girlfriend Amada (Eva Mendes). When police forces led by Joseph make a raid on Bobby's nightclub, hoping to net Vadim, Bobby refuses to cooperate. The incident strains his relationship with his father and brother even more, to the point that he and Joseph exchange blows.

The police are unsuccessful in capturing Vadim, who decides to retaliate. At 5:43 pm on the evening of November 24, 1988, Joseph is shot by a masked assailant, and his 1988 Ford LTD Crown Victoria police cruiser firebombed. Joseph survives the ambush, but the extent of the injury requires him to be hospitalized for months. Bobby visits his brother in the hospital and realizes that he actually cares about what happened to his brother and father. He resolves to help his father and the police. Despite Burt's apprehension, Bobby goes undercover inside Vadim's drug-smuggling operation. Bobby and Amada are placed under constant police protection and their relationship begins to deteriorate.

On February 20 1989, Vadim escapes custody while being transported to a hospital. The police prepare to move Bobby and Amada to a new location. During a blinding thunderstorm, the police convoy is intercepted by Vadim's men and, during a chaotic white-knuckle car chase, Burt is killed. Bobby passes out in the rain when he sees his father's body. The police take Bobby and Amada back to a Sheridan Hotel near Kennedy Airport. He wakes up a few hours later and finds Joseph in the hotel room. Joseph tells him that Burt died. Bobby cries in Joseph's arms and asks how "they" found them.

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 and his brother Joseph work together to organize a final sting operation, set for April 3, 1989. During the raid, Joseph is emotionally incapacitated by the memory of his shooting and cannot continue on. Bobby ends up hunting down Vadim by himself. The film ends on November 3, 1989, exactly a year after the film's opening with Bobby graduating the NYPD Police Academy to become a full-time police officer. As the valedictory speech is given, Bobby sees Amada in the audience, but it turns out to be an illusion. The film closes with Bobby and Joseph expressing their love for each other.


Former New York Mayor Ed Koch made a cameo as himself.


The film received mixed reviews from critics. As of May 2009 on the review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, 55% of critics gave the film positive reviews, based on 133 reviews.[3] On Metacritic, the film had an average score of 59 out of 100, based on 33 reviews.[4]

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.[5] The film grossed a total of $54.5 million worldwide — $28.5 million in the United States and Canada and $26.0 million in other territories.[6]

The film was a commercial success in the United States, since Sony Pictures only paid $11 million for the rights to distribute this film.[1] Sony Pictures released this film through their division, Columbia Pictures.

The film has been a hit in the United States DVD market, as it has brought in more than $22 million in DVD sales [2] and more than $32 million in DVD rentals [3].


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