We Own the Night (2007)

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Released 20-Aug-2008

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Crime Main Menu Audio & Animation
Featurette-Making Of
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2007
Running Time 112:43
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By James Gray
Studio
Distributor

Universal Pictures Home Video
Starring Joaquin Phoenix
Eva Mendes
Mark Wahlberg
Robert Duvall
Alex Veadov
Dominic Colon
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI $34.95 Music Wojciech Kilar


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

We Own the Night, written and directed by James Gray, (the director's third film) is a crime drama set in Brooklyn, New York, 1988. The title of the film refers to the motto of the NYPD's Street Crimes Unit which was disbanded in 2002.

We Own the Night also recalls the thematic concerns of Gray's earlier (underrated) films The Yards (2000) and Little Odessa (1994), which both explored father/son relationships and moral obligation in corrupt environments.

Furthermore Joaquin Phoenix and Mark Wahlberg, who portrayed old friends in The Yards, are cast as duelling brothers in We Own the Night.

Phoenix portrays self-indulgent playboy Bobby Green, the manager of 'El Caribe'- a notorious nightclub which is frequented by Russian gangster and drug lord Vadim Nezhinski (menacingly played by Alex Veadov). Furthermore the nightclub's owner Marat Buzheyev (Moni Moshonov), treats Bobby like a son. Bobby is also revealed to have a distanced relationship with his own (renowned) father - police chief Burt Grusinsky (Robert Duvall), and his admired police captain brother Joseph Grusinsky (Mark Wahlberg).

However when the police forces set their sights on Nezhinski (Buzheyev's nephew), in an attempt to stop the latest wave of narcotics sweeping the city and raid Bobby's nightclub (an operation led by Joseph), Bobby is forced to decide whether to help his father and brother or remain loyal to his criminal associates - but Bobby's decision is swiftly made for him when tragedy strikes.

This gripping thriller has some memorable well-directed set-pieces, and a tortured performance from Phoenix. Eva Mendes, who portrays Bobby's girlfriend Amada, who struggles to support Bobby's decisions is also admirable. Duvall and Wahlberg's characters are unfortunately underwritten, but both actor's still exude imposing screen presence as the uncompromising policemen.

Simply, there is something old-fashioned (in a good way) about Gray's films which I enjoy. The director even mentions in the 'Making of' the importance of The Godfather, The French Connection, Taxi Driver and Panic in Needle Park in relation to the thematic conventions of We Own the Night, and style of film he was trying to acheive - also Gray knows how to create suspense with sound and performance rather than grandiose effects.

Moreover, while it can be argued We Own the Night generally does not offer anything new to the 'Policier' film genre (police/crime thriller), and while some viewers may view the Greek tragedy narrative of the film as overbearing, overall, We Own the Night is a quality cinematic experience, thanks to Gray's exceptional direction and excellent performances from all involved in the production. Recommended.

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Transfer Quality

Video

We Own the Night has received a solid transfer. The film is presented in 1.78:1 16x9 enhanced widescreen.

Cinematographer Joaquin Baca-Asay opts for realism and a grey colour palette.

Most of the scenes are set at night or in dimly lit rooms, and the transfer thankfully is detailed.

Skin tones are warm, while the black levels are solid. There are no major incidents of compression artefacts as the transfer has been encoded on a Dual Layer DVD.

The transfer remains relatively sharp and shadow detail is also decent.

Film grain appears to be intentional.

The dates, locations and English subtitles for the Russian dialogue unfortunately appear on a subtitle track.

There is also an optional English Hard of Hearing subtitle soundtrack.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

The single audio soundtrack on the DVD is the English 5.1 Dolby Digital audio option.

While dialogue is central to We Own the Night, the film proves to be a dynamic experience on the surround sound, particularly during the action set pieces such as the drug raid, car chase and confrontation in the field.

Music is also central to the sound design - evoking the era the film is set in - 'Heart of Glass' and 'Rapture' by Blondie, 'Let's Dance' by David Bowie and 'The Magnificent Seven' by The Clash and many more feature. The atmospheric orchestral score by Wojciech Kilar builds upon the melodramatic thematic concerns of the film - particularly during the scenes between father and son.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Main Menu Audio & Animation

The main menu is animated and accompanied by a section of the score. There are 20 scene selections, a set up option and access to the supplement.

The Making of We Own the Night (55:34)

This almost hour long 'Making of' features an extensive interview with director James Gray, who elaborates on the themes of the film, production design, casting, research and the how the film was conceived. The cast and crew are also interviewed including producer Nick Wechsler, Eva Mendes, Robert Duvall and Danny Hoch. Behind the scenes footage is also included (16x9 enhanced).

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

The R4 release is identical to the R2 (UK) Universal Pictures release.

Note the R1 Universal Pictures release does not include the 'Making of' which appears on the R4 and R2 (UK) releases.

Instead the R1 Universal release includes:

Also bonus trailers for: This title is also available on Blu-ray in the US - with TrueHD audio options.

Summary

We Own the Night is a quality cinematic experience, thanks to James Gray's exceptional direction and excellent performances from all involved in the production.

The local DVD is a solid release from Universal, which includes an informative 'Making of'.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Vanessa Appassamy (Biography)
Friday, November 07, 2008
Review Equipment
DVDOPPO DV-980H, using HDMI output
DisplayPanasonic PT-AE 700. Calibrated with THX Optimizer. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with THX Optimizer.
AmplificationYamaha DSP-A595a - 5.1 DTS
Speakers(Front) DB Dynamics Polaris AC688F loudspeakers,(Centre) DB Dynamics Polaris Mk3 Model CC030,(Rear) Polaris Mk3 Model SSD425,(Subwoofer) Jensen JPS12

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