101 Min | Action – Crime – Drama | September 2008
IMDB Rating: 6.0
Director: Jon Avnet
Starring: Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Carla Gugino
Righteous Kill Review: Righteous Kill tells the story of two veteran New York City homicide detectives who have been partners for 30 years. When one of them oversteps the bounds of the law, the other covers it up. Now they are on the trail of a serial killer who is killing known criminals, and when they figure out that the killer knows things that only a cop would know, tensions begin to rise as the two detectives deal with the fact that the killer may be much closer to them than they think. In Righteous Kill, Turk (Robert De Niro) and Rooster (Al Pacino) are longtime NYC police partners, in this Jon Avnet thriller that has them trying to stop an unknown serial killer, a person who leaves a poem at the scene of each crime.
In Righteous Kill, victims are law-breakers who were freed on legal technicalities. Two other cops, played by John Leguizamo and Donnie Wahlberg, become suspicious of the investigation, and this hampers the efforts of Turk and Rooster. The script on which the film is based is not bad. Further, “Righteous Kill” is not that much different from other serial killer or urban crime films. The mood here is dark, and the tone is rather cynical. Characters go out of their way to telegraph their toughness by using lots of “hard” language. There’s an edginess to the characters, and that’s okay. But I could have wished for a character with some degree of softness. That would have provided much needed balance to the overall tonal savagery.
Without a doubt, Righteous Kill’s best element is the acting. There’s not a weak performance in the bunch. Of course, the focus is on De Niro and Pacino. This is really their film. And it’s their camaraderie, their back and forth playful banter, that makes the film worth watching. Production design and costumes are credible. Color cinematography is generally dark, consistent with the story’s mood. In spite of a weak script, “Righteous Kill” does provide some good plot misdirection that will leave viewers unsure as to the story’s outcome. But the film’s main virtue is the casting of De Niro and Pacino, two contemporary screen legends whose performances here are quite good.