Righteous Kill – Blu-ray Review
By Patrick Luce Jan 5, 2009, 11:47 GMT
Righteous Kill pairs two cinematic icons whose previous screen collaboration, Michael Mann\'s 1995 Heat, was absolutely electrifying despite minimal time together in a long movie. Now in their mid-60s, De Niro and Pacino are playing veteran cops who, despite being grizzled, should look much younger than these actors. The incongruent casting makes the dark story improbable from the get-go, and things get worse as dialogue by screenwriter Russell Gurwitz quickly ...more
Righteous Kill is a decent cop thriller, but you can’t help but expect more from the film due to the pairing of Robert De Niro and Al Pacino. Instead of something truly great from these two screen legends, we get a film that just seems tired and predictable.
The film was written by Russell Gewirtz (2006’s Inside Man) and directed by Jon Avnet (director of Al Pacino’s 2007 flop 88 Minutes). Pacino and De Niro are joined by 50 Cent (billed as Curtis Jackson), Carla Gugino, John Leguizamo, Donnie Wahlberg, and Brian Dennehy.
The film kicks off with De Niro’s cop Turk doing a video confession to killing 14 people during the course of his career as a cop. It then backtracks and introduces us to Turk and his partner Rooster (Pacino). The two are veteran detectives and are trying to bust drug kingpin Spider (50 Cent). They are also wrapping up court duties for another case – where the defendant gets off.
The film’s story gets going when the presumed guilty criminals start getting shot by a vigilante who drops a gun and a bad poem at the victim’s feet. Rooster and Turk start an investigation into the killing of a pimp and then are joined by two young detectives, Det. Simon Perez (Leguizamo) and Det. Ted Riley (Wahlberg), when another killing happens. Forensics investigator Karen Corelli (Gugino) rounds out the team. She also happens to be Turk’s girlfriend and has a few issues of her own.
The film moves forward at a predictable pace with the old detectives growling and clashing with the young detectives and lots of red herrings being thrown so that we suspect pretty much all the cops doing the investigation. Turk is also providing the viewers with his video confession as the film rolls, but it is pretty clear from the start that he might not be the actual killer.
As the film plays, Turk becomes the main suspect with De Niro growling in every scene and trying his best to look guilty. This is the typical De Niro character. Turk is soft spoken, with a quiet violence just under the surface that comes from being a cop for years. It is clear he cares about the innocent people he is trying to protect as a cop, and is willing to cross the line if it means getting the job done.
Pacino holds down his normal loud performance until the film’s ending, but seems old and tired throughout the film. The biggest problem with his performance is his character doesn’t seem to really matter until the end of the film. He is the buffer to De Niro’s more violent Turk, and seems to be just continuing the same kind of character he played in the Michael Mann’s 1995 film Heat.
Pacino and De Niro aren’t bad in the film, but there just isn’t any new ground broken here by the two legendary actors. They both just seem to be relying on characters from past films and on their legendary status to sell the performance on screen.
The supporting cast also doesn’t serve much purpose in the film. Leguizamo and Wahlberg hold their own against the two screen icons, and manage to provide some good performances. Gugino is wasted in the movie, and her character’s quirks are never really explained. Some twists with her character towards the end of the film are just stupid and ruin the character. Brian Dennehy turns in a great performance and is a nice addition to the cast – even though he is only in a few scenes.
The film looks gritty and great on Blu-ray’s 1080p picture, but there is nothing that makes it stand out on the format. If anything, the crystal clear picture shows how old Pacino, De Niro and Dennehy are looking these days.
The Blu-ray is a little light on special features given its cast and the pairing of the two actors. It comes with commentary from Avnet, a look at the making of the movie, and a featurette on the world of cops and criminals. There is also a second disc that has a digital copy of the film for portable players.
Righteous Kill is not a horrible movie, but you can’t help but feel like it should be better due to the cast. Instead of something groundbreaking, the film is a “by the numbers” cop thriller that never strays from the formula and is easily forgettable.