In a welcome break from the craptacular offerings of late in the theatres (not all, but more than a few), "We Own the Night" is an excellent addition to films that feature a cast who can both act and seems to care about their role, a script that can keep you engaged, and a plot that makes you care about the characters and the outcome.
Bobby is a New York nightclub manager (with Jumbo as his right-hand man), dating Amada and working for a fur dealer fronting with the club as his legit business. Bobby's dad Burt is a NYPD chief and his brother Joseph is a newly promoted NYPD captain. The brothers and dad find themselves on opposite sides of trying to bring down big Russian mafia drug dealer Vadim.
Joseph raids the club, with a few arrests, including Bobby (but they have nothing on Vadim). For revenge, Vadim's men shoot Joseph in the head and torch his car, and Vadim -- not knowing they're related to Bobby -- tells Bobby that Burt is next, and asks Bobby if he wants in on the cocaine business. Bobby ponders where his loyalties lie, setting in motion a course of events he can't detour once begun.
An action film with drama, or a drama with action -- either way, it's a far cry from the cookie cutters like "Feel the Noise," "Dragon Wars: D-Wars" and the like. It's a welcome treat to have actors who can act (and the balance of Oscar wins and nominees for the leading cast certainly attest to their abilities). Writer-director James Gray (The Yards, 2000) brings another of his own works to the screen, again leaning toward the wronged man trying to make good on past choices, and again with success.
The film manages to keep you engaged start to finish, making it easy to overlook the two hours in the seat. The theatre wasn't crowded, but I would attribute that more to the local weather than to any negative feature of the film. The too-often used theatrical element of the violent Russian mobster wasn't so prominent that it was a detractor, but when you need a bad guy, you have to get them from somewhere, I guess, even if it's a somewhat worn path to convenience on that front.
But on the balance, a pretty great film, relying on storytelling without having to depend on sex scenes, blood and gore, and the other trademarks of a lesser film -- well worth catching, even if you have to brave some rain to do it.