Righteous Kill

| September 21, 2008

I hate to have to write reviews like this one. When I saw the trailer for Righteous Kill, I was excited that two of my all time favorite actors were starring. Robert DeNiro and Al Pacino have been in two other movies together (Heat and The Godfather Part II), but never shared the screen for this much of the runtime of any of them. I was hoping for a masterpiece, but what I saw was a run of the mill Buddy-Cop-Who-Dunnit film. Well, lets get on with it.
Robert De Niro (as Turk) and Al Pacino (as Rooster) star in Righteous Kill. They have been partners on the NYPD for 30 years (wow, longer than John McCain has been married to Cindy and his first wife who he left after she had a disfiguring accident combined) investigating murders. They are both nearing retirement age, though there seems no mention of mandatory dates, and have stumbled upon one more big case to solve. There is a serial killer who is targeting criminals who have been let go by the system. Damn, that Bill of Rights. If writer Russell Gerwitz (Inside Man) just took a cue from the Bush Administration, he would just have one of the cops start killing the criminals with impunity. Oh wait, that is what might be happening.
They dub the killer the Poet Killer because he kills his victims from very close up and leaves a pre-written poem describing why he has assassinated the particular scumbag. The intrigue begins when the bodies filling the morgue begin to all align with cases that Turk has failed to close or grudges he may need to eliminate.
To make things worse for Turk, there are two younger detectives who are also focusing on this case and they see all roads leading to Turks front door.
But this is Hollywood. There has to be some mystery. Or a twisted ending. I will not tell you the ending, but I will tell you to pay attention to the dialogue. There are many hints buried in conversations which would seem to point one way, but as you will see in the “required” flashbacks during the third act, they really should send you into another. And, you might figure this one out pretty early, so you can retire to the back of the theater and take a nap.
In retrospect, this would have been a far better movie if we had never seen the killer until he (or she) was caught. More mystery was needed. And more killing. Yea, more killings would have made this film more enjoyable. I would have thought that director Jon Avnet, with 56 (mostly television) producer credits to his name, could have given us a better movie. Or at least a better movie of the week.
Righteous Kill is not a righteous see. Its not even a righteous Netflix. Maybe a righteous cable flick where someone else pays your monthly bill.

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