Director James Gray (THE YARDS) posits two distinctly different brothers--Joseph (Mark Wahlberg) and Bobby Grusinsky (Joaquin Phoenix)--as the central characters in this crime-infested thriller. Joseph and Bobby inhabit two conflicting worlds in late 1980s New York, the former becoming a cop and the latter running a nightclub. Bobby spends his evenings in a den of iniquity, indulging in drugs, alcohol, and gambling, and his model-like girlfriend Amada (Eva Mendes) is never far from his arm. Their two worlds meet when the father of the two men, Burt (Robert Duvall), who is also a cop, gets together with Joseph to ask Bobby for information about a patron of the club named Vadim (Alex Veadov). Vadim is the nephew of the club's owner, and also a dangerous member of the Russian criminal underworld. Bobby sides with Vadim, and the tension in Gray's brother-versus-brother potboiler reaches melting point as Joseph goes after both his sibling and his Russian foe.
Wahlberg, Phoenix, and Duvall all deliver high-caliber performances throughout, and Gray suffuses the plot with enough twists and turns to provide a few surprises. New York City is perfectly utilized as a backdrop to the action, and cinematographer Joaquin Baca-Asay manages to get the balance between moody, atmospheric shots and explosive action sequences just right. WE OWN THE NIGHT ultimately resembles an old-fashioned cop film with a little Scorsese-like drama thrown in for good measure, and is likely to gain a following among movie fans seeking retro crime thrills.