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We Own the Night

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The title is the slogan for a New York City police vice unit, but it could be also be the rallying cry for a well-organized group of Brooklyn-based Russian gangsters. It's the among the obvious us-vs.-them set-ups repeated throughout James Gray's crime thriller, set in the mid-1980s. One brother (Mark Wahlberg) is a cop, the other (Joaquin Phoenix) runs the mob's nightclub; there's also a cop dad and a gangster dad. But narrative conventions demand clear sides must be taken -- and there won't be any surprise over how the second half of the film resolves. Phoenix performs well as the rebellious and ultimately troubled brother; he looks both streetwise and scared. As in his earlier film The Yards, Gray finds cinematic beauty in NYC's less traveled spaces, and delivers one nervy, crackerjack car chase.

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