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This could possibly be the easiest review I have ever had to write. I could pen one line and be done. It would go something like, “Pacino and De Niro play NY cops in a gritty crime thriller”. Need anything else really be said? Even if I went on to say this is the worst film ever! Stay away at all cost! There remains the fact that Pacino and De Niro play NY cops in a gritty crime thriller. You still have to go see it, right? Of course you do. Luckily I do not have to use words like worst and stay away. Righteous Kill though not the best written film still creates the perfect world for these two NY natives to do what we all expect them to do.
The story revolves around two police detectives, Turk (Robert De Niro) and Rooster (Al Pacino), who are seemingly on the hunt for a serial killer. Someone is offing NY’s lowlife scum bags and as good as that is for society as a whole, it doesn’t look good for the cops trying to solve it. When two other detectives (John Leguizamo and Donnie Wahlberg) start to suspect Turk, it turns into a twisty drama of deception and speculation. Add in a CSI detective (Carla Gugino) with a fetish for rough and tumble sex and you have all the grit and action you need.
No one has to praise or remark on the performances of Pacino and De Niro. You know that in a film like this they are going to make the movie kick and scream with good cop bad cop tension. The facial expressions, the vocal authority, the eyes that demand respect. These guys wrote the book and deliver here exactly what you would expect. I was worried that age would take away the rough edges that made these icons the stars they are. That somehow they would wane in comparison to the days of Serpico and Raging Bull. Maybe it was lighting and camera angles, but whatever, my worries where unfounded.
To be honest I wanted a better script. How often do you get the chance to see these two together as NY detective partners? That alone demands the highest quality of plot and writing. Though doable, this was a little too thin for my taste. The holes are obvious and at times the transition from scene to scene was lacking. There was plenty of speculation with out much explanation. For me anyway. Most will probably not even notice the holes and it certainly doesn’t take away from the films watchability.
It goes without saying, though I will say it, a film like this has to take place in NY. Anywhere else would be ridiculous. This adds to the flavor of the film and you almost get the sense that it helps the two main actors. Sort of like having home field advantage as a sports team. It is a place you rule and no one can touch you on your home turf.
Rated R for violence, pervasive language, some sexuality and brief drug use. It’s a NY crime drama with Pacino. Do you think they will say heck and darn? The violence is held in check for the most part. Many of the visual scenes are post mortem with a few gunshot wounds at close range. Again, it is what you would anticipate from a film of this nature. But it doesn’t flaunt it or brag about it. I give this film 4 out of 5 little black books. Again, it’s Pacino and De Niro for heaven sake!
Matt Mungle (9/11/08)
Matt is a member of the North Texas Film Critics Association (NTFCA) and hosts a daily online talk show along with a weekend radio feature, The Mungles on Movies, with his wife Cindy. For additional reviews, interview clips and great DVD giveaways, visit the website www.mungleshow.com
Review copyright 2008 Mungleshow Productions.
Used by Permission.
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