We Own the Night Blu-ray Review
PictureWe Own the Night comes to Blu-ray with a superior 1080p High Definition video presentation in the movie's original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1 widescreen. Detail is excellent throughout, from close-ups that showcase bloodshot eyes, to the trail of a single tear and the beads of sweat during the more tense sequences. There is no noticeable softness, although the slightly blue-drained, sombre filming style has got a light grainy sheen (except for the smoke-laden climax, where it is much more prevalent) that is obviously totally intentional and in-line with the gritty mood of the drama. The colour scheme - as stated - has a tinted, almost sepia look at times, eschewing blues for the most part (apart from one pivotal rainy car sequence) and grounding the movie with a dark, tragic feel. The picture looks fantastic, whether in the shadow-laden nightclub scenes (that boast solid, flawless blacks), the cloudy daylight moments or the clinical police station settings, and this Blu-ray rendition makes We Own the Night look outstanding.
SoundTo accompany the crime drama we get a solid, brooding Dolby TrueHD 5.1 track. The dialogue comes across reasonably clearly and coherently - at least for the most part, it is dominated by softly spoken words - mainly emanating from the frontal array. The effects are keenly observed, mostly some excellent ambient noises, like crickets chirping, trampling of long grass and reeds, and the incessant, oppressive straining of the windscreen wipers during the rainy sequences. There are some excellent, truly atmospheric moments afforded to us by an all-encompassing surround mix that really makes you feel like you are in the middle of a downpour, or with the noises muffled like you truly have been deafened by gunfire. The more powerful moments are afforded to us in the more dramatic sequences, but whilst they are quite effective, they are also sparse, adding to the shock effect. It really is a very broody track, with even the score barely tangible in the proceedings, but always there when needed, helping to heighten the tension in key moments. The soundtrack is also populated by some great classic songs by artists like The Clash, David Bowie and Blondie, which really bring the scenes alive - in particular in the nightclub. Much more original than some of Scorsese's recent soundtracks, this effort is superb, and beautifully presented here.
ExtrasFirst up we get a full-length Audio Commentary provided for us by the Writer/Director James Gray, who provides fans with an informative but marginally dry track, packed with trivia and technical details but lacking slightly in terms of depth. He addresses issues with regards to shooting some of the key sequences and talks about some of his ideas with relation to the characters and story, and overall it will be an interesting listen for those who enjoyed the movie.
Tension: Creating We Own the Night is your usual making-of Featurette that often plays as more like a promotional Featurette than anything in-depth. Just like the Commentary, it barely skims the surface of the production over its quarter-hour runtime, but does have a few nice interviews - particularly with all the main cast members, who each get to share their views with regards to the movie. It would have been nice had one or two of them contributed to the Commentary track as well.
Police Action: Filming Cops, Cars and Chases is ten minutes long and looks at the key action sequences, in particular the excellent car chase, dissecting the shooting techniques and explaining how they achieved the look. The cast and crew are on hand to offer their input and this is a slightly less frivolous, more informative offering, albeit a tiny bit on the brief side.
Finally we get A Moment in Crime: Creating Late '80s Brooklyn, which takes ten minutes to look at the costumes, sets and score used to create the correct period atmosphere. It's pretty standard stuff, which explores one of the more interesting aspects of the production (they did a good job at creating the mood) but never really fails to engage. There are also a couple of Trailers to round off the disc - 30 Days of Night and Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story.
VerdictWe Own the Night is a flawed classic, a near-masterpiece, with some outstanding performances across the board, from the rising heavyweight star Joaquim Phoenix to the veteran legend Robert Duvall, a superior, original story and a heady, oppressive atmosphere that combines glitz and glamour with dark brutality. The Blu-ray presentation is pretty excellent, with superior video, a decent aural showcase of the perfectly suited soundtrack and a nice selection of extras to round off the disc. Sure, this movie may not gel too well with some people, not least because of the contrived final act, but few will fail to see the huge potential here, and the greatness that nevertheless shines through. I have to say that this still gets a blind-buy recommendation from me, it is still a superior crime drama and well worth adding to your collection.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £24.17
Our Review Ethos
To comment on what you've read here, click the Discussion tab and post a reply.