first, cut-for-Cannes preview we saw for James Gray’s crime flick, We Own the Night, seemed to be lifting heavily from the campaign for The Departed; the addition of the New York City skyline graphics in this final theatrical trailer clinches it. They might as well have dropped "Gimme Shelter" in there while they were at it.

Aside from having a Wahlberg and a month of release in common, I don’t know why Columbia is so determined to invoke last year’s Best Picture winner when they could easily sell this movie on its two bankable leads. Last I checked, Joaquin Phoenix could open a movie on his own (unless you want to ascribe Walk the Line‘s $20 million-plus opening to Johnny Cash alone – and that argument could be made); pair him with the increasingly popular Mark Wahlberg, and there’s no reason to cast a Scorsese-esque pall over the proceedings. How did closely associating Blow with Goodfellas work out?

This is especially puzzling because, thus far, James Gray’s family crime sagas have seemed more influenced by Visconti than the amped-up cinema of Scorsese; that said, the car chase featured to shrugging effect in this trailer is supposed to be a worldbeater (per Esquire‘s Mike D’Angelo). Clearly, this is Gray making a bid for the A-list, which, despite two Cannes competition visits, is a designation that’s eluded him (not that it’s hurt his ability to attract an A-list cat). But if this film were lousy with commercial potential (and, despite the derivativeness, I like what I see in the trailer), why did Universal unceremoniously dump it months ago?

We’ll find out if Gray’s finally put the pieces together October 12, 2007.