Hmmm, so I can’t talk about this movie without referencing this Bollywood movie from 1970 that I really love. It’s called Deewar. It’s not really the same plot but has this whole father is a hero – one brother’s a cop – the other deals with the mafia thing going on. It stars Amitabh Bachchan, probably the biggest Bollywood movie star ever (If you’ve watched Slumdog, he’s the actor the little kid desperately wants to get a look at).
Anyway, so the reason I reference that other film is obviously because I was reminded of it throughout while watching this but also because it really highlights in some ways how classic and familiar the plot of this movie is. Seriously, it’s not just that one film.. this film in so many ways reminds me of 70s Bollywood films. The way it seems to be an action film, a cop-and-criminals tale but also ends up being about families and how they can be a curse
but can also save us from ourselves*. Very Bollywood and therefore potentially very all over the place and messy.
And We Own The Night does have that problem. The plot isn’t great and the ending is definitely a bit much. But while I really doubt that I can sit through those Bollywood movies today, I have no problem admitting that I liked this film quite a bit. I already knew from watching Two Lovers and The Yards that Gray can really tell a familiar story in a really exciting way. This one has so many standout scenes — the opening sequence between Phoenix and Eva Mendes, the car chase in the rain, the whole sting operation sequence. Plus it has amazing performances from Phoenix and Wahlberg yet again. The film is beautifully shot and everything has this kind of dirty, grimy look that I absolutely loved. Something about the way Gray handles moral dilemmas really appeals to me. Plus, I always feel like he just has an amazing amount of empathy or at least understanding for his characters who always seem flawed and yet so human.
He doesn’t make perfect films for sure but somehow I feel like I’m always going to find something to love about all of these films. Looking forward to catching up with Little Odessa next.
*Edited following extremely convincing offline discussion with duder .