Back in 1988 in New York, Bobby Green (Joaquin Phoenix) manages a nightclub, where it’s all about the image and the party lifestyle. Accompanied by his girlfriend Amada (Eva Mendes), he is the quintessential bad boy and lives life the way he wants to, unlike the men he’s now off to see.
Joseph Grusinsky (Mark Wahlberg), and his father Burt (Robert Duvall) are beloved and high-ranking officials for the NYPD. Obviously, they are grounded and vehemently adhere to the law they have been sworn to protect. They are also the estranged brother and father of Bobby, and they don’t approve of the choices he has made. While this family has its issues, a series of tragic events brings the outsider back into the fold.
It turns out that the men Bobby works for are being tracked by the police for drug trafficking, and they need him to be their informer, which results in both Burt and Joseph becoming targets for their wrath. Now the criminals feel that they are above the law and that the cops are too stupid to figure out any of it. Obviously, while he hasn?t been on good terms with his father and brother for quite a while, Bobby puts aside all the animosity in order to bring down his “surrogate” family.
My only major grudge was with Eva Mendes’ performance. While it seems that the drug-dabbling girlfriend may have been breakout characters in other films (Michelle Pfeiffer in Scarface and Sharon Stone in Casino), she remained one-dimensional, boring, and groan-inducing. The fault could have been with the scripting or with the actress herself. In any light, while she didn’t really have too much to work with, there could have been a little more effort in the area of character development.
Generally, it was a pretty decent movie. I doubt that it will be heralded as a classic, but it’s worth a trip. I believe that the three sets of relationships (father/son, brother/brother, boyfriend/girlfriend) are the core of the film, and all of the other events are the means to break down (or in a couple of instances put up) the walls of anger, emotional pain, and hostility, which led to loyalty, forgiveness, and eventually, justice.
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