NOTE: Another great spoiler was sent in by Marcus.
The film begins with old photographs of New York police officers arresting people and conducting drug busts. The police motto is “we own the night”. Queens, New York 1988. Amada (Eva Mendez) masturbates on a couch while Bobby Green (Joaquin Phoenix) watches. Bobby then walks over and fingers her while they make out. They are interrupted by Jumbo (Danny Hoch), who tells him that Marat wants to see him, and that there are topless girls dancing on the bar downstairs. Bobby leaves the room and walks to a balcony, where we see that he’s on the upper level of a popular nightclub that he manages. He walks around, greeting club-goers, including Vadim Nezhinski (Alex Veadov) and Pavel (Oleg Taktrov). Drunken guys fight over the topless girls downstairs while Jumbo watches. The fighting gets broken up, and Amada gets her coat, excited that he finally gets to meet Bobby’s family. Bobby walks across the street to where Marat lives, and his wife answers the door. She gives him something to eat while he meets with Marat (Moni Moshonov), who’s the owner of the nightclub and also runs a fur coat business on the side. He tells Bobby that he’s very happy with how he runs the club, and that they’ll talk about some important business later. Marat’s wife tries to get Bobby to eat more, but he tells them that he has to go. Elsewhere, several cops gather to honor Police Lieutenant Joseph Grusinsky (Mark Wahlberg) in an auditorium. Joseph mingles with everyone and horses around with his wife and kids. Police Chief Burt Grusinsky (Robert Duvall), his father, introduces him to some people and then they both wonder if Bobby is going to show up. Bobby and Amada pull up to the auditorium and smoke some weed in their car. Amada gets nervous, since there are a lot of cops present, but Bobby tells her that everything’s cool. They enter and Bobby greets all the police officers that he knows. He introduces Amada to his brother Joseph and to Burt, but they bring Bobby to the chapel above them to talk with two other cops.
Joseph says that he’s going to head a new narcotics unit to destroy the drug flow into the city. Their main target is Vadim Nezhinski, who’s been seen doing drug deals at the nightclub. Bobby realizes that they want him to be their informant and refuses. It’s also made apparent that Bobby changed his last name so that no one will know that his family members are cops. Joseph and the other cops go downstairs while Burt stays behind to talk with his other son. He tells Bobby that they’re in a war, and sooner or later he’s going to have to choose if he’s going to be with the cops or the drug dealers. He also makes mention that he can smell the weed on him. Bobby goes back downstairs and gets Amada to leave with him as Burt talks onstage about how proud he is of Joseph. He hugs him and then Joseph has everyone take a moment of silence for a police officer who was recently murdered. The next day several of Bobby’s friends hang out at his home while he talks with Amada in the bedroom. As he tries to decide on which shirt he should wear that night, she tells him that she has talked to her mother (who she lives with) and has decided to move in with Bobby, which makes him very happy. Amada also gives him a necklace as a gift. He tells her to get dressed and come to the living room to hang out. Jumbo arrives to the party and supplies everyone with various drugs. Amada puts on a red dress and gets high with everyone.
Later on Bobby meets with Marat again and has dinner with his family. Marat has his family go into the other room, and then he tells Bobby that he wants to open another nightclub. Bobby says that Manhattan would be a good place, and Marat mentions that he wants him to run the new club. Bobby goes back to the nightclub and tells Jumbo about the new job, telling him that he can be the new host. As they talk, Bobby sees Amada hanging out at Vadim’s table, which worries him. He meets up with her and tells her that she shouldn’t be hanging out with him. As they talk, Joseph and a swarm of police officers burst into the club. They stop the music and order people around, making them empty their pockets. Bobby is forcibly shoved on a table, and when he mouths off the cops pour charcoal in his mouth. Joseph demands Vadim to reveal himself, and so he walks downstairs with his crew. Vadim is searched and a wad of cash is found in his pocket. Joseph asks him if he wants to double his money and rips the money in two, giving it back to him. The cops found drugs on one of Vadim’s guys and his girlfriend, and so they are arrested. Vadim tells his guy that if he talks, he’ll kill his mother. Joseph reassures Vadim that the guy will talk and then leaves with the other cops. Marat arrives just in time to see the bust, and see Bobby’s being led away as well. Bobby is booked and charged with possession and resisting arrest. As he’s led through the station, he sees that Vadim’s guy who was arrested has slit his own throat. Joseph asks what’s going on, and the cops say that the guy killed himself with a hidden knife. Burt visits Bobby in jail and calls him disgusting. He releases him, but makes him take a shower before he goes home.
Bobby gets ready to leave when he walks into Joseph’s office. He gets pissed that they busted his place and didn’t give him any type of warning. They both insult each other’s women, and get into a fight. Cops break them up, and Joseph tells Bobby that he doesn’t ever want to see him again. Bobby leaves, and then Joseph decides to go home as well since it’s a holiday. That night, Joseph pulls up to the front of his house and drops some groceries next to his car. As he bends down to pick them up, a man wearing a burlap sack walks up to him and shoots him in the face. A car pulls up to pick up the shooter, and they throw a Molotov cocktail into Bobby’s car before they speed off. Burt is working out at the gym with his buddies when he learns about the shooting. He says that he’s okay, but winds up collapsing. While Bobby and Amada play poker and gamble with friends, Bobby gets a call from a friend of his father’s, telling him that Joseph was shot. He tells Amada what happened and gets ready to leave for the hospital. She wants to go with him, but he refuses. Jumbo asks Bobby what’s wrong, but he leaves without saying anything. At the hospital, Bobby tries to talk with Burt, but he wants nothing to do with him. Burt’s friend pulls Bobby aside and tells him that the bullet entered Joseph’s cheek and exited through his jaw. He’s going to have to stay in the hospital for a long time, but he’s going to pull through. Bobby goes up to visit him, but is held back by the cops guarding his room. They learn that he’s Joseph’s brother, and Bobby is allowed to enter. Joseph’s wife sits by his side and Bobby gets emotional looking down at his injured brother. He goes to Amada’s mother’s house, and breaks down in Amada’s arms.
Later, Bobby eats in a restaurant with Jumbo and Amada. They get prepared to leave when Vadim and Pavel enter the restaurant. Bobby sends Amada off with Jumbo, and talks with the two. Vadim says that since Bobby is good friends with his uncle Marat, he wants to propose a business deal to him. He’s going to be supplied with a very large amount of drugs soon, and he wants Bobby to help them get their merchandise out on the street with his connections. He tells Vadim that it’s a bit risky getting involved in this, considering that they were just busted the other day by the cops. Vadim tells him that the police are a joke, and that he’s the one who shot Joseph. He says that maybe if they cut off the head, the rest of the body will fall, and so he says that the chief of police will be next. He invites Bobby to view his operation and sample some drugs. If he wants in, all he has to do is contact Pavel. Bobby goes to the police station and tells Burt that he’s being targeted next. The cops want to bring Vadim down, but they don’t have any evidence against him, and Marat appears to be totally clean of the drug business. Burt’s friend says that they could use Bobby to help bust him, but Burt doesn’t want him to be part of it. Bobby goes home and embraces Amada, thinking about what he’s going to do. While Burt’s friend comes out of the hospital, Bobby signals him over to talk. He says that Joseph is going to be released soon, and Bobby asks him what he would have to do if he wants to help them. They next time they meet, the cop tells him that no one will know of his involvement, not even Burt. They have implanted a wire into a lighter, and will be tailing him all the time. If he thinks that Vadim is onto him, Bobby has to say “feather” to call in the raid.
Bobby goes to the club and Jumbo tries to buy him a drink, but Bobby tells him that he has business to attend to. He meets with Pavel, who tells him that they will meet at the boardwalk in one hour. From there, they will put a mask over his head and drive him to the location of the drug lab. Pavel makes it known that he doesn’t trust Bobby at all, even though Vadim does. If he doesn’t come alone or if he makes the wrong move, they’ll go after Amada. Bobby goes to the boardwalk and is put in a car. Pavel frisks him, and then puts a mask over his head. They drive to the drug lab, and everyone including Bobby put on masks to cover their mouths. Pavel leads Bobby down a dark hallway, and he gets extremely nervous. Bobby sees several workers cutting up drugs, and Vadim welcomes him. He tells him to sample some coke, and so a worker gives Bobby a blade with a line on it. Bobby snorts it and hides the blade up his sleeve. He says that it’s good, but then Vadim can see that Bobby is breathing hard and is obviously worried. He frisks Bobby and pulls out everything from his pockets. Vadim asks him why he has both matches and a lighter. Bobby says that he’s just as light as a feather. Vadim takes the lighter apart and finds the wire inside. He tells Pavel that he was right, and orders him to kill him. Pavel approaches, but Bobby stabs him in the throat with the blade. The cops raid the drug lab, killing a couple of armed workers. Pavel gets on top of Bobby and struggles with him, covering Bobby’s face with his blood. A cop sees them fighting and shoots Pavel in the head, spraying Bobby with his brain matter. Bobby’s hearing goes out from all the shooting, and then another cop comes and aims his gun at him. Bobby tries to tell him that he’s on their side, but he shoots at him anyways. To avoid being shot, Bobby jumps through a window but winds up falling awkwardly on the fence outside. Vadim tries to escape through another window, but is arrested.
Bobby is put in an ambulance, and Burt shows up. He’s furious that this was all done behind his back, and yells at his friend, asking where his son Bobby is. Unfortunately, Vadim overhears this while he waits in the back of a police cruiser and vows revenge. Some time later, Joseph’s friends and family members throw him a welcome home party. Bobby is recovering from his fall, wearing a cast around his leg. He’s also being guarded by the police, along with Amada. She wants to go visit her mother, but Bobby tells her that they’ll leave together in a little bit. Joseph, Bobby, Burt, and some others discuss Vadim being in jail and getting a lead about the shipment of drugs in the near future. Joseph sends Bobby away, telling him that he’s not involved anymore and to let them handle it. Burt gets after him, since Bobby stuck his neck out for them and now has a hit out on him. Bobby looks for Amada, but a cop tells him that she went to her mother’s. Amada and Jumbo are hanging out at her mother’s house when Bobby shows up with several cops. Bobby gets after Jumbo, because he’s not supposed to know where they are, but he reassures him that nobody knows that they’re there. As Amada and Bobby are driven to their motel, Amada gets upset that he got to see his family but she couldn’t see her mother. He tells her that going to Joseph’s was a special circumstance, and that they have to lay-low for a couple months until Vadim’s trial.
Eventually Joseph goes back to work, and he’s assigned to transport Vadim from jail. However, the desk clerk tells him that Vadim was transported to a hospital after suffering from chest pains. Burt tells Bobby that Vadim has escaped with the assistance of his crew, so him and Amada need to get out of town immediately. They pack up their things and wait for back-up to arrive at the motel. Burt promises to protect Bobby as three cars show up. Burt will drive the first car, Bobby and Amada will be driven in the second car, and the third car will hold the extra cops. As they drive in the rain, Bobby looks back and can’t see the third car. He asks the cop driving them if the third car is the one right next to them. The cop looks over and is shot in the head by the goons in the other car. Bobby shoves him aside and gets behind the wheel as the goons attack Burt’s car. They cause several cars to crash, and Bobby tries to catch up to them. As Burt shoots at the other car, one of the goons leans out of the window with a rifle and shoots him in the neck. The villains speed off and Bobby drives next to Burt, telling him to pull over. Burt ends up crashing head-first into another car. He stumbles outside and collapses on the ground as some cops arrive at the scene. Burt dies from his gunshot wound.
His funeral is attended by all the police officers and their families. Marat and his wife also show up as well. Burt is buried, and his friend tells Joseph that they will bring Vadim down. He also gives him something that Burt gave him a long time ago. Later on, Amada sees that Bobby isn’t sleeping again and has been spending his time taking an exam to become a police officer. She gets upset that he didn’t talk to her about this, even though he says that he would’ve. She tells him that he’ll only wind up dead like Burt, which upsets him greatly. Nonetheless, Bobby is sworn in as an honorary police officer, under the condition that he will complete the training academy after this is through. He wears a police uniform and gets his picture taken. After he goes through orientation, he meets up with Joseph in his office. Bobby will get his new picture ID in a few days, but the cops won’t let him carry a gun. Joseph says that he’ll make sure he gets to carry a weapon, and then tells him how strange it is for him to be at the police station, considering that they didn’t talk that much before this all happened. Bobby tells him that all that’s important is that they finish this. When he goes back to the motel, a cop tells Bobby that Amada left him, leaving only a note.
Bobby and some other cops go to the nightclub to talk with Jumbo. They catch up a bit, and Bobby asks him if he knows where Vadim’s next drug deal is happening. He says that he doesn’t know, and then accidentally lets slip that he knew which motel they were staying at (Amada told him). Bobby brings Jumbo outside to talk with him alone. He again asks where Vadim’s next deal is going to happen, but Jumbo maintains that he doesn’t know. Bobby roughs him up and it becomes clear that Jumbo is working for Marat now. He also told him the motel they were staying at, which resulted in the car ambush. Bobby is furious that Jumbo’s the reason that his father was killed and beats him up some more. The cops meet at Joseph’s house, where they talk about Jumbo confessing to giving them up. He also said that Marat is a major drug dealer and that Vadim works for him. They couldn’t find anything to link Marat with the drug business because he uses his grandchildren to smuggle drugs into the country via plane. The big drug deal is going to happen tomorrow, but they don’t know the location. Bobby knows that every week Marat goes to a specific field to take his grandchildren horse back riding. Since tomorrow’s the day he does this, the cops bank on the deal happening at the field. After they all leave, Joseph gives Bobby one of Burt’s pistols to protect himself.
The next day, Vadim and Marat meet with the drug dealers in a warehouse at the field. Marat’s grandchildren stay in the backseat while they conduct business inside. Joseph, Bobby, and a horde of cops lay-low in the field. Marat shows the dealers that the drugs he smuggles inside the country are hidden in the fur coats he has. The dealers sample a taste and are impressed. As they make the buy, Joseph orders everyone to freeze via speaker. Marat orders his guys to get his grandchildren, but the cops get to them first and protect them. Some goons fire into the field, shooting a cop in the head. Joseph falls back near the dead cop, and even though he’s not shot he can’t bring himself up, thinking about his own shooting. Bobby grabs the dead cop’s shotgun and runs towards the warehouse. Vadim burns the drugs, grabs a machine gun, and leaves through a back window. The goons are shot down, and Marat is arrested. Bobby chases Vadim to the field, but can hardly see because the field is so thick with wheat. He nearly shoots another cop, and he alerts him that Vadim is in the field with them. They plan to smoke him out and order all the cops to leave the field. They surround it and throw flares inside, setting it on fire. As the cops wait for Vadim to come out, Bobby decides to go back in alone and get him. He searches through the smoke and eventually finds him right in his path. Bobby shoots him in the chest, and Vadim dies. Bobby walks outside to where Marat is surrounded by cops, and orders him to get on his knees. Bobby gives Burt’s pistol to his friend and then rests his head against Joseph’s while he sits in a car.
Some time later, Bobby shows up to an auditorium with several other police officers. He’s nervous about graduating from the police academy, but Joseph tells him that he’ll be okay. Joseph has decided to take a desk job, since the shooting and everything got him to think more about his family. The ceremony starts, and for a little while Bobby thinks that he sees Amada in the audience, but it turns out to be someone else. The film ends with Bobby and Joseph telling each other that they love each other.
*CUT TO THE CHASE*
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Robert Duvall's character, who is the Chief of Police is killed while transporting his son Joaquin Phoenix in protected custody. Phoenix and Wahlberg work the drug case, and finally surround the Russians at the end as they are making their last big drug deal. Phoenix shoots and kills the Russian drug dealer and arrests his father (the club owner.) At the very end Phoenix graduates from the Police Academy, following in his father's steps.