Righteous Kill (2008)

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> Worst Films of 2008
Overall Rating 60%
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Ranked #1,741
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Turk and Rooster, two aging NYPD detectives and longtime partners, are hunting a serial killer who is murdering sociopathic criminals. They both have personal issues, and when they start working with a younger investigative team, Perez and Riley, tensions between the two teams is inevitable, especially since Turk is now living with Perez's ex-girlfriend, also a homicide detective. --IMDb
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Review by bluemeanie
Added: September 20, 2008
For the past few years, both Robert De Niro and Al Pacino have been trading acclaim for paychecks with a string of films that have done little to enhance their already legendary resumes. Now, it's no unusual for high profile stars to take projects for big paychecks to feed their craving to do strings of independent films - Morgan Freeman has taken that kind of an approach, as have Bill Murray and Michael Caine. De Niro and Pacino, however, seem to have decided that paychecks come first in almost every situation, for the past few years anyways. De Niro has added these films to his resume: "Analyze This", "15 Minutes", "Showtime", "City By the Sea", "Godsend", "Meet the Fockers" and "Hide and Seek". In turn, Pacino has starred in "Simone", "People I Know", "The Recruit", "Gigli", "Two for the Money" and "88 Minutes". These were all nothing short of disasters for the two stars, and although some were successful, none have really done anything to advance their careers in a meaningful way. "Righteous Kill" was supposed to be their return to form - and also a chance to reunite the two stars, their having only appeared together once before for a brief scene in the film "Heat". Alas, "Righteous Kill" is yet another film to add to both of their struggling resumes, a film so riddled with cliches and lame attempts to be 'trendy and hip' that it drowns in its own delusion. I was highly disappointed with this film, and the two legends floundering therein.

So, there are these two cops, right? Turk (Robert De Niro) and Rooster (Al Pacino) have been partners for many years and they are also best friends. Early on, we learn that there is a serial killer on the loose, targeting criminals who have slipped through the justice system. The killer is some sort of vigilante and Rooster suggests it might be a cop. This sets off two young detectives (John Leguizamo & Donnie Wahlberg) on the trail of the person responsible and all eyes seem to point to Turk. Turk's S&M loving lover, and fellow police officer (Carla Gugino), seems to believe him, as does his superior (Brian Dennehy), but most of the film deals with everyone trying to prove Turk is innocent. There are some twists and turns along the way as we start to learn that people might not be who they say they are. 50 Cent pops up as... you guessed it... a street thug and the always great Melissa Leo in a throw away role as a drug addict. Pay close attention to the film because, if you miss something, you might not catch up. By the end of the film, the goal is that you're amazed because everything you've been thinking is turned on its end. The problem is that you can see the end coming several miles away, and you keep hoping it won't because it's so damned cliched and unworthy of such acting talent.

One of the biggest problems with "Righteous Kill" is that it wants to be cool and trendy and doesn't know how to make that happen. The editing is fast and flashy and feels like it's way overdone at times. Director Michael Apted seems more comfortable directing a fast paced action flick, but "Righteous Kill" tries to be more than that, which makes the editing and the pacing off throughout. Apted seems to think that all De Niro and Pacino are good for is tossing out tired old buddy cop cliches and screaming obscenities at the top of their lungs. Has he never seen "The Departed"? He should have taken notes on how well Scorsese used Jack Nicholson in that picture. That said, Apted is no Scorsese, and neither De Niro or Pacino are Jack Nicholson. "Righteous Kill" doesn't know what it wants to be. A buddy cop drama? A serial killer film? A thriller? A mystery? It tries to be all of those things simultaneously and fails at all of them. It felt like I was watching two great actors sitting around and reading lines from a 1980's cop movie, as a joke. It felt like - "How would Robert De Niro and Al Pacino deliver these lines?" And, though this is being billed as a return to form, neither De Niro nor Pacino look as if they are having any fun together whatsoever. They look lost, and a little trapped.

Now, to the performances. You can never really say that De Niro and Pacino are bad, but they are weakened by lesser material. You can see slight glimpses of how kinetic they could be together in the right roles, but they we drift into the stock dialog that makes you want to cringe. Leguizamo and Wahlberg do well with their roles, but this is sort of their territory. Brian Dennehy was nice in his few scenes, but was underused. I wanted to see more of him. The best performance in the film comes from Carla Gugino, probably because her character seems the most developed and fully realized of them all. And, I don't know what 50 Cent is doing here, but he can't act and this film proves it. He's just there as eye candy for a few scenes and then he gets shot, as you know will happen. But, aren't we supposed to care more about De Niro and Pacino in this film? Yes, we are. But their characters are so bland and uninspired that we're reaching for any performance in the entire picture to connect with. There is one moment when the two of them are sitting in a restaurant and literally exchanging line after line of recycled garbage from a thousand other films just like this one - line after line - "I'll never let you down, partner", "I'll take the fall", "Partners till we die" - blah blah blah blah.

If you haven't guessed it, "Righteous Kill" should have been put out of its misery long before it saw a single day of shooting. Robert De Niro and Al Pacino deserve better, but so do we - from them. There are people out there who truly admire them as actors and want to see them succeed, but how can they when they keep accepting the same worthless roles from the same clumsy directors. Al Pacino is more at fault because he just got through working with Michael Apted on "88 Minutes", the worst film of Pacino's career. Did these two sign a deal with the devil or something? "Righteous Kill" is not the worst film of the year, and there are probably those out there who will love it and say that both De Niro and Pacino are 'awesome' and 'kick ass'. Those same people - the ones who use those particular descriptives - obviously haven't see enough of their quality work to appreciate just how awful this kind of work is. In closing, let me recommend that you go out and purchase both "Taxi Driver" and "Dog Day Afternoon". Watch them, and then check out "City By the Sea" and "Simone". Then take a Valium and grieve.

grain of sand #1: grain of sand - added September 20, 2008 at 3:11pm
"Then take a valium and grieve."

Edd #2: Edd - added September 21, 2008 at 10:33am
Just another waste of two great talents. 3/10
Tristan #3: Tristan - added December 2, 2008 at 6:19pm
"Rooster, we gotta catch this guy!"

Just one of many cringe worthy lines. I had to see this. I just HAD to. I wasn't about to let a flop like this go without a viewing. As I suspected, it was complete and utter trash.

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