Phoenix owns ‘the Night’

At first glance, this movie appears to be yet another cookie cutter crime drama where the police fight against gangsters to take back control of the streets. Well, it is. But if you take a closer look, you’ll see the complex character relationships that really make this movie worth seeing.

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By Saida Green

By Saida Green

At first glance, this movie appears to be yet another cookie cutter crime drama where the police fight against gangsters to take back control of the streets.

Well, it is.

But if you take a closer look, you’ll see the complex character relationships that really make this movie worth seeing.

The movie centers on Bobby Green (Joaquin Phoenix) who is the manager of a popular night club in New York.

But being in the club scene often means turning a blind eye to blatant criminal activities. Realizing that his career and perhaps his life could be over if anyone discovered that his father, Burt Grusinsky (Robert Duvall) is the city’s deputy police chief, and his brother, Joseph Grusinsky (Mark Wahlberg) is a rising star on the force, Green struggles to keep those details of his life hidden from everyone but his sexy girlfriend Amanda (Eva Mendes).

Bobby’s world begins to fall apart when Vadim (Alex Veadov), a Russian crime boss willing to kill anyone that dares to cross him, declares war on the New York police department.

Green is suddenly forced to choose between his fast-paced, party lifestyle and the family he tried so hard to distance himself from.

This movie has a great story line, but it’s far from perfect. It’s a little tough to swallow that a big time well connected drug dealer wouldn’t think to do a background check on someone he planned on showing his operation to- which would’ve revealed Green’s connection to the New York police department.

And are we supposed to believe that a single car can take out a small army of cops escorting a witness?

Another flaw is in the storyline of the movie, which is not exactly original material. I’ve seen the same theme of two brothers on different sides of a war in two other James Gray films called “Little Odessa” and “The Yards” which also involve Russian crime mobs in New York.

Key details like this kept me from fully applauding this movie.

But that’s all forgiven because of the complex relationship between Green, Joseph and Burt. What they go through as a family is far more interesting than the crime elements of the film.

Overall I’d give this movie three out of four stars. The movie was made with confidence and energy, and the actors do a great job. There were some puzzling moments, but Phoenix does such a great job that you forget about them and just sit back and enjoy this great movie.

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