We Own the Night
Well-written, well-acted, well-photographed (minimal use of shaky-cam, hurray!) … and ultimately just a bit disappointing. I don’t know who to blame it on, except to say that it’s territory that I guess I’ve grown a little tired of. New York City, 1988, and the motto of the NYPD was “We Own the Night.” I don’t know exactly what that little bit of bravado was meant to translate as (certainly not something as bald and awful as “Giuliani Time!”), but never mind. The cops are fighting drugs, which is a useless fight, in my opinion—they should be a medical problem, not a criminal justice problem—so right there I’m a bit less than engaged. We got a cop family, with Robert Duvall a chief, his son Mark Wahlberg a new Captain, and the black sheep, Joaquin Phoenix, operating a trendy club. Drugs are bought and sold and used there, but Phoenix is not involved in that, at least not directly. You can easily see where this is going. Lee predicted that Wahlberg would be shot as a means to galvanize his ne’er-do-well brother to Do The Right Thing. We were both a little surprised that he survived the assassination attempt … but it was easy to figure who would be the next to go. I won’t tell you, but I’m sure you can figure it out. I have to give them points for avoiding some of the worst cop-action movie clichés—the bad guy, hit with one shotgun blast, does not get up and fight some more—and it was a better-than-usual night at the movies, but I know that in a year I’ll have trouble remembering what it was all about, just like right now I can barely recall anything about the highly-touted The Depahted.