Righteous Kill (2008)

Two veteran NYPD police officers (Robert DeNiro & Al Pacino) have been partners for over 30 years. While investigating a murder of a pimp, the case resembles one that they had solved years prior. They soon find out it is a vigilante that does these crimes when the police fail at their jobs.

Director: Jon Avent

Cast: Robert DeNiro, Al Pacino, Carla Gugino, 50 Cent, John Leguizamo, Donnie Wahlberg, Brian Dennehy, Trilby Glover

MPAA Ratng: R for violence, persuasive language, some sexuality, and brief drug use.

Runtime: 1hr 40 mins

Fun Fact: The initial cut was over two hours long. The studio decided to cut twenty minutes of the film due to negative test audience reactions and some of the deleted scenes can be seen in the trailer.

The other night I was going through/browsing through my movie collection seeing what I own. While putting movies back on the shelf I stumbled on Righteous Kill. I remember that I went to the theater back in 2008 to see this film as I had seen quite a bit that year as I think 2008 is one of the greatest years in film. I don’t really remember what I had thought of it back then, but all I know is that I ended up buying it on DVD when it hit the home market. For some reason I had a pull to watch this film.

Robert DeNiro and Al Pacino are two of the greatest actors of all time. They both have been in some huge and monumental films in their careers. Over the years the two of them haven’t really been in many films together. They didn’t share the screen in The Godfather Part II and only had two scenes together in Heat. So, the selling point of both of them being on screen together in Righteous Kill had sparked my interest because they would share quite a bit of screen time. What could possibly go wrong when you have the star power of DeNiro and Pacino in a film?

Righteous Kill is a huge disappointment with all of the talent working on it. The selling point of having DeNiro and Pacino wears off pretty quickly. Both of them are trying their hardest, but they can’t carry the film and make it enjoyable. Russell Gerwitz, who wrote Inside Man, wrote this script and honestly, it’s a mess. There is no cohesive narrative and feels cliché. It feels like we have seen this movie before a dozen times. We get the same there’s some sort of vigilante out there taking matters in his own hands and the police are scrambling to figure it out. I could give this a pass if it was an extended episode of CSI, but this is a movie that cost $60 million to make. Instead of showing us actions, we get quite a bit of talking. Gerwitz also puts in different sub plots that are also forgettable. There were a couple of times that something happened earlier on that I had forgotten about. It wasn’t until one of the many exposition scenes that reminded me that a plot point had happened earlier on. In the early 2000’s movies and shows were obsessed with twist endings. They were literally everywhere that it was practically beaten to death. This script also has a twist to it, but unfortunately you can see it a mile away. One thing is heavily focused on, but the opposite happens. If your good enough, you will figure it out halfway through the film.

For a film that has quite a bit of talented performers, their characters have nothing interesting to them. The only investment we get is obviously DeNiro and Pacino but even then, it lacks any interest. We know they have been partners for a long time and have solved many crimes, but we only get faint mentions of both of their backstories. I didn’t get anything out of the supposed DeNiro and Gugino “romance.” I put romance lightly because all they show is brief scenes of rough and kinky sex that doesn’t further the story. It’s just there and there is absolutely no need for it. Everyone else is just there for filler or pushed to the side when finished and forgotten about. The cast other than DeNiro and Pacino lack chemistry because of the lack of investment on the characters.

The editing of the film is awful. Everything bounces around quickly, and the movie goes too fast to keep up with. There are moments on screen with how things are shown that are a better fit for a comedy or a family film. The choppy editing kind of made me feel nauseated to be honest. What also doesn’t help is that some of the things that we see had happened either very quickly or off screen so the characters can explain it to preserve the so-called twist.

Overall, Righteous Kill is a big letdown. Many talented performers are wasted with a blandly written script that relies on telling rather than showing. It has many cliches that have been beaten to death at that point in film making and a twist you can see a mile away. I don’t think that director Jon Avent didn’t really know how to handle the material. For a film like this we should have many moments that have suspenseful or tense moments that will take us to the edge of our seats, but it falls flat and comes off as boring. The selling point of having both Robert DeNiro and Al Pacino wears off really quick in this mess and when both of them were unhappy with how the film went then you know that the film was a mess. Hey at least they redeemed themselves with The Irishman.

Verdict: Miss

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