Reel Shorts | Righteous Kill

13 09 2008

It has taken almost what seemed like a lifetime, but finally Robert De Niro and Al Pacino star together in the crime drama, “Righteous Kill,” this is not so much a movie but a cinematic tribute of two titans who deserved much better than this tepidly told story.

Iconic actors De Niro and Pacino dominate the screen and the story as veteran NYPD detectives and partners who are trying to solve the case of a serial killer who leaves notes of poetry with each victim. While the identity of the killer seems to be known at the film’s outset, according to Film Rules 101, whenever something is too obvious, there’s sure to be a twist.

30-year detectives Turk (De Niro) and Rooster (Pacino) patrols New York’s mean streets with an iron fist. In a 21st century world, the two are throwbacks almost like lawmen defending a town in the old west. After an impressive opening sequence showing the two neatherdals blazing targets with pinpoint precision, one of the detectives shares a startling confession.

Incensed that a child killer walks on a technicality, one of the detectives begins a killing spree designed to right some of the judicial system’s wrongs. In no time at all, one becomes a “street sweeper,” cleaning out all of the trash from the city’s crime rolls. 14 killings later, and the entire force is on the lookout for a serial killer who just might be – god forbid, a cop!

The two get a lucky break one night inside suspected drug runner, Spider’s (Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson) club when they arrest a young lawyer who they try to flip to help bring the crooked club owner down. Once the bust goes down, the two come under intense scrutiny tightening the noose on the outside activities. While Turk and Rooster are assigned the serial killer case, they cross paths with another young detective team  Riley (Donnie Wahlberg) and Riley (John Leguizamo) who smell something foul with two vets and begin to make their lives miserable.

While not on the job taking out the bad guys, Turk has kinky, rough sex with fellow detective Karen Kleisner (Carla Gugino). As the film evolves, Kleisner has no bottom or shame when it comes to getting off and the old-fashioned Turk is right up her alley. The more sedate Rooster is a speed-chess demon who puts away multiple opponents at a time in the parks of the city.

With the body count increasing and the white-hot glare of suspicion burning the two vets, how will they locate the real killer and avoid being falsely incriminated in the process?

Director Jon Avnet (“88 Minutes”) and screenwriter Russell Gewitz (“Inside Man”) try to infuse the film with witty dialogue, sexy situations and gritty New York crime drama. Separately, these elements are effective, but as a complete finished structure, the story feels incomplete. The film plays more as a tribute to the talents and work of it’s fine leads than a strong, competent story. Even the film’s language speaks of the two in reverential tones when at one point calling the two detectives, “Lennon and McCarthy.”

Playing slightly exaggerated versions of their often-repeated screen personas, Pacino and De Niro give the audience exactly what they expect and in this story, that is the problem. With the action being so one-sided in the opening sequences, one could easily deduce that there would be a change in the film’s focus from the middle act on.

Gewitz’s script compliments the screen lion’s personas but falls far short as even a good film. The story is so predictable that from the middle of the film on it was just a matter of how it would evolve. After directing Pacino in the earlier bomb, “88 Minutes,” what this film needed was a director that understood the terrain of New York’s mean streets – Martin Scorsese. With the material he had to work with, he may not have made a better film, but it would have been more enjoyable for sure.

Grade: D




One response

12 09 2008
righteous kill review

[…] a movie but a cinematic tribute of two titans who deserved much better than this tepidly-told story. Kill Trailer, Reviews and Schedule for Righteous Kill …Righteous kill Trailer, Reviews, […]

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