This is the story of two grown brothers, Joe (Mark Wahlberg) and Bobby (Joaquin Pheonix), and their father (Robert Duvall). Collectively they are the Grusinkys, a family as normal as any American family…except that Joe and their father Albert are police officers and Bobby is the manager of a hopping night club called El Caribe.
Bobby has the life every party-minded man wants…a job he loves that allows him to socialize with New York high rollers every night, an insanely sexy girlfriend (Eva Mendes) and a boss who is like family. Life is perfect. That is, perfect until his father and brother take him aside at an award ceremony to let him know that they have been ordered to arrest a man who is known to be a frequenter of El Caribe…the nephew of Bobby’s boss and a known player in the Russian mafia.
Unfortunately none of Bobby’s friends know his father and brother are cops and that includes the friends that were very upset about the arrest of the boss’s nephew, people that think nothing of hunting down police officers and going to any and all lengths to free one of their own. What ensues is a fast-paced race, on the one side to see that justice is done and a criminal is not released back into the general population, on the other to see those responsible for the arrest dead.
Are glorified cops and robbers movies just the current fad or what? Despite being around the end of a dozen new movies about police, FBI, mafia, Irish mob, whatever else that I’ve seen this year alone this one was actually pretty good…but then again I think a lot of that could be a great cast overcoming a lackluster script.
I felt that two of my favorite actors in this film…Wahlburg and Duvall…were almost entirely wasted, neither got a lot of challenging screen time and Robert Duvall’s character was fairly stereotypical. Maybe they threw him in there to increase viewers? If so then it worked, he was the main deciding factor in my pursuit of the film the day it was released.
Despite my being down on the script the plot was actually fairly well thought-out and, for the most part, the big name actors went a long way to saving the film. Surprisingly (to me anyway) Joaquin Pheonix put in the performance I liked best in this movie…maybe it’s because he was the only one to have a half-decent part because Robert Duvall, for one, generally out-acts Pheonix by leaps and bounds…whatever the reason his contribution was quite impressive.
Overall I felt this movie was pretty good but not great…the visuals and the acting were quite good but that bum script just dragged it down and reduced all secondary characters (that is, everyone except Phoenix) to two-dimensional and fairly uninteresting people. There is an element of tragedy but since the movie failed to stir up any feelings in me for any of the characters I just couldn’t care less when something happened to them. That, and the aforementioned overload of “cops and robbers” movies could be to blame for my lack of excitement in this particular movie. I suppose I will watch this film again to see if my second impression is as down as the first but I’m certainly not rushing off to the store to buy it for my personal collection.