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Righteous Kill
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Righteous Kill

Starring Robert De Niro and Al Pacino
Screenplay by Russell Gewirtz
Directed by Jon Avnet

IN SHORT: Yes, the team-up is a must see. But you will be disappointed. [Rated R for violence, pervasive language, some sexuality and brief drug use.]

With testosterone flowing like a river, Righeous Kill pairs of A+ list actors Al Pacino and Robert De Niro, bringing them back to the big screen for the first time since the filmic abortion (over-hyped and under-delivering) that was Heat, fourteen or fifteen years ago. This time, at least, the team  up is not a big marketing tease but a true pairing of the actors as detectives Turk (De Niro) and Rooster (Pacino), partners on the detective squad of the NYPD. Their boss, Lt. Hingis (Brian Dennehy) is riding them about a series of killings in their jurisdiction, all linked by cards with bad poems on them left at each crime scene. Killings they can't solve because they (meaning the detectives) may have been on the job too long. Or may not care about since the corpses in the bodybags are all scum of the earth felons who beat their charges.

Yep, some criminals beat the system. Some criminals who beat the system tick off members of the community who then decide to take the law into their own hands and "finish off" said criminals. Turk and Rooster's inability to crack this case brings other detectives in to poach on their territory. The pair of Reilly and Perez (Donnie Wahlberg and John Leguizamo) are most determined to stick their noses in, as is detective Karen Corelli (Carla Gugino), Turk's paramour. Corelli likes it rough but Turk just can't go that extra yard.

Someone will.

Those last two words could mean a lot of different things. We'll not spill that part of the story either. It's not the point of Righeous Kill, a meandering drama of the fall to the dark side of one of the above listed detectives, with a pretty good twist which we'll try not to let slip. Sitting through the film means a long time of waiting for something to happen and, once it does, wishing the payoff were as big as the imagined potential De Niro and Pacino teaming would imply. It doesn't work because, just as with Dustin Hoffman's gig as Teach in the film of American Buffalo, DeNiro and Pacino are so deep into their character -- thirty year vets of the force and best friends for as long -- that there is no big emotional discharge to slam the door shut on the story. The characters "know each other" far too well. As well, there is no great build-up to the Third Act reveal, though the film does set y'all up in another way that we also won't give away.

Helping to drive the story is a street pimp called Rambo (Roby Dyrdek), a Harlem nightclub owned and run by a suspected drug kingpin called Spider (Curtis Jackson aka rapper 50 Cent) and a men's room bust of a hot blonde lawyer named Jessica (Trilby Glover). She becomes the connection by which our "heroes" can move in to bust the drug dealing, club owner. That's the active criminal story that chugs alongside the serial killer subplot but all we've described amounts to much ado about nothing. Your own imagination about how great a Pacino-De Niro team up would be may always be greater than reality.

For those that know what to ask, no, Carla Gugino -- god's gift to the heterosexual males of the planet Earth -- keeps her clothes on. For the most part. You really don't want to see De Niro naked, getting it on with her, right? Right. As for Righteous Kill in general; you know you want to see it because of the superstar teamup, but is that teaming plus  a couple of good jokes in the dialog enough to shell out the full ticket price? Once again we state . . .

On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Ten Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to Righteous Kill , he would have paid . . .


Dateflick level, just because of the team up. Aside from that you should wait and rent. Righteous Kill is okay to kill time and offers little to keep you glued to your seat, other than to find out who's really the bad guy.

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The Cranky Critic website is Copyright © 1995  -  2017  by Chuck Schwartz. Articles by Paul Fischer are Copyright © 1999 - 2006 Paul Fischer. All images, unless otherwise noted, are property of,©, ®, their respective studios and are used by permission. All Rights Reserved. Not to be used or copied for any commercial purpose. Academy Award(s) and Oscar®(s) are registered trademarks and service marks of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.