We Own the Night is a crime drama set in Brooklyn, NY during the late 1980’s, an era known for its decadence, style, and big, big hair. The film focuses on the Russian mob’s emergence on the local drug scene and the violence that follows, and how it relates to a dysfunctional family with members caught on both sides of the conflict. The film’s unusual title is actually based on the NYPD’s slogan in the war on drugs at that time, although the drug issue is more of a backdrop to the family drama present throughout the movie.
A gritty film set amongst the Russian night clubs and seedy alleyways of Brighton Beach, We Own the Night chronicles a family of cops trying to make a difference in their community. It’s an uphill battle, however, as the new drug-fueled crime wave created by the Russians finds the police force out-manned and out-gunned. The death toll mounts as Joseph Grusinsky (Mark Wahlberg), son of Police Chief Burt Grusinsky (Robert Duvall), is promoted and given the unenviable task of cleaning up the streets. Needless to say, our Vodka-swilling friends don’t appreciate Joseph’s efforts and come upon him late at night, leaving him with a bullet in his head. Joseph survives, but is laid up in the hospital for months, eventually being released and resuming leadership of his team. However, while the physical scars the attack has blemished him with have healed, Joseph has developed mental ones as well, and it is these scars that will prove to be the more debilitating of the two.
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