Tuesday, 22 January 2013

No.168 : We Own the Night

We Own the Night on IMDb
It’s 1988 in New York and things are going well for club manager Joaquin Phoenix. He has girlfriend Eva Mendes getting frisky on the sofa and all the drugs his bloated frame can manage. We soon learn that he is in the employ of the Russians and as anyone who has ever seen a film knows, they must be up to some bad shit. He knocks off work early so that he and Eva can attend a police function in a church basement, a strange affair that keeps the same hours as a hot disco.

Joaquin’s brother, Marky Mark, and Father, Robert Duvall are high ranking cops and they are concerned at our hero’s erratic behaviour and the company he is keeping. The Russians are dealing drugs out of Joaquin’s club and they’d like him to do some snitching for them. The lounge lizard club boss is having none of it but reconsiders when Marky Mark narrowly escapes the attentions of an incompetent hit man.

The bad company Joaquin keeps don’t know of his family connections as he changed his Polish name to ‘Green’ to fit in. This oversight leads them to spill far too many details of their plans to control the drug trade and put a cap in the ass of poor old Robert Duvall.

With this new motivation Joaquin decides to turn squealer and infiltrates the mob’s drug factory, which is frankly rubbish next to the one in ‘Robo-Cop‘. As you’d expect the main bad guy escapes and turns his attentions, quite understandably, on Joaquin and Eva who foolishly stood by her man and indeed took the part.

With the claret flying we learn about a big drug deal going down - if only some implausible bit of deduction can lead them to the remote meeting place where they can wrap up everything neatly and just in time.

This was an OK film but nothing you haven’t seen loads of times before. A kind of low-rent ‘The Departed’ for slow people. The main issue is hanging the whole film on the acting talents of Joaquin, which must have taken some doing as they are hard to spot. His broody silences look like he’s waiting to be given his lines and his manic shouty outbursts just look ridiculous. He does get some quality time with Eva Mendes, who serves as little more than eye-candy, but I guess that’s the benefit of having a producer credit.

Marky Mark is well short of his ‘The Departed’ showing especially at the end where he takes a sudden and unheralded character twist that sets up Joaquin to be the hero. Duvall does what you’d expect but you see no chemistry at all in the family trio.

The bad guy Russians are your stereotyped tattooed psychos but exuded very little menace, even in the supposedly tense ‘wearing a wire’ scene. The action, as it was, was weak with a confusing and poorly orchestrated car chase that had me wondering what was happening. The big shoot out at the end was a damp squib and it beggared belief  the cops shouted out their appearance giving the Russians the time to tool up and flee from the rear windows.

You can see what they were going for here but the whole good son, bad son routine failed to ignite as did Joaquin’s redemption - he looked like he was having a far better time at the start! I did laugh when the police chief made Joaquin a probationary cop for the big raid and said ‘After this you’ll need to go to the Police Academy’. At last a vehicle worthy of his talents! - hope he rooms with the guy who makes computer noises!

Best Bit - Hey Eva that sofa hasn’t been Scotch guarded!
Score : 14/23

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