Righteous Kill

May 1st, 2009 DVD Reviews, Film, Xpress

This is the film that’ll go down in history as one of cinema’s biggest let downs. After sharing a film but no scenes together in 1974s The Godfather Part II and a single, teasing scene in 1995s Heat, the thought of sharing a whole film was enough to turn fans of two of acting’s living legends into an apoplexy of excitement.

Unfortunately, most of whjat you’ve heard is true. If De Niro and Pacino hadn’t been in this it would have been another straight to DVD police procedural (and indeed was, bombing so badly in the US Australian DVD distributor Magna Pacific probably picked it up for a song, bypassing local cinemas altogether).

Two career cops are investigating a vigilante killer who’s targeting scumbags who get off from charges on technicalities and leave bad poetry at the scene of the crimes. Both men eventually fall under suspicion from younger, hungrier colleagues (Donnie Wahlberg and John Leguizamo) who slowly turn their commander (Brian Dennehy) against them while they protest their innocence and the clock ticks.

There’s a lot of masculine bravado to the proceedings but too many directing gimmicks. If you like it enough you’ll get more out of a few more viewings – director Jon Avnet at times buries the dialogue and action under too many flourishes and together with a distinctive cop vernacular it’s actually hard to know what’s going on sometimes.

The final twist probably isn’t a secret to you by now but one thing the movie does well is throw you a few red herrings from the opening frames in order to make you assume everything you shouldn’t.

Both De Niro and Pacino seem tired and disinterested, Wahlberg and Leguizamo putting far more effort in and coming across as far more charismatic. Their skills at picking roles has also suffered immeasurably over the last decade or more, and it’s sad to report this is about up to their usual standard even though it doesn’t even cast a shadow over the best work from either mans career.


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