There’s a point in Righteous Kill where Rooster (Al Pacino) is telling Turk (Robert De Niro) about how he lost his faith in the job when Turk had planted a weapon to get a conviction on a child killer. He says that since he saw the best cop he knew (Speaking of Turk) plant a weapon, he lost his whole faith in everything. Funny thing is, I want to tell DeNiro the same thing in regards to his acting. I once loved DeNiro’s work. In fact, he was my favorite actor for years. But ever since I saw The Score, I’ve lost faith in his acting, and in Hollywood in general. His work since then has repeatedly proven that sentiment correct.
Don’t get me wrong, both actors are decent in Righteous Kill. The problem is that, for both, decent just doesn’t cut it. Granted, they didn’t have a whole lot to work with this time around. The script, by Russell Gewirtz (best known for penning the surprisingly good Inside Man), is mediocre at best, with some lines bordering on ridiculous. One prime example that comes to mind is when a character exclaims something to the effect of “a cop serial killer!? Who ever heard of that?”, as if Showtime’s Dexter hasn’t been running for three years at this point. The quote is basically the premise of the film: someone’s killing bad guys, they think it’s a cop, and all eyes are pointed on Turk.
If the writing was mediocre, the direction was far below. Jon Avnet (88 Minutes, Fried Green Tomatoes) has what I call Tarantino’s disease. Symptoms of this ailment include: trying to make a film “cool” as opposed to “good”, using different editing techniques in an attempt to make it “inventive” (though it comes across as hackneyed), and a willingness to portray violence as a commendable character trait. Many directors succumb to this disease, and, to be honest, Righteous Kill is better than many of the movies made by such directors. It’s just not worthy of the talents involved.
If you want to see Pacino and DeNiro together, you’re better off sticking to Heat. While, even when mediocre, their acting is fun to watch, and makes the movie better than it would’ve otherwise, it’s still not up to the level they should be at. Let’s just hope that one day they find a director who can use their talents to a better end, as this would be a forgettable last hurrah to their screen legacies.
2 ½ / 5 stars
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