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Righteous Kill

Those enticed by the potential fireworks of a Robert De Niro/Al Pacino team-up are in for a major disappointment, as the two stars are wasted in a serial-killer thriller so rife with plot holes that one wonders why the two actors even bothered.


Someone's been killing off the criminals of New York City--the ones that the law can't seem to put away via proper channels--and it's up to veteran detectives Turk (De Niro) and Rooster (Pacino) to crack the case and bring the killer to justice, by means fair or foul. As whodunits go, this isn't a terribly compelling or suspenseful one. There are red herrings and dropped clues galore, but the script (by Russell Gewirtz, of Inside Man fame) is both choppy and loopy--and not in good ways. The story is needlessly convoluted, and despite a few tough-guy quotes from De Niro and Pacino, this is a forgettable police potboiler.


De Niro. Pacino. What more could anyone ask for? A decent script, perhaps? There's a palpable pleasure in seeing these two titans share the same frame, but that sensation is quickly dissipated as the clunky storyline lurches toward its inevitable finale. Pacino appears to be having more fun than De Niro, who's almost sheepish in his role as a troubled New York detective. The supporting cast--and it's a good one--fares little better, although there's more chemistry between John Leguizamo and Donnie Wahlberg, as sort of a younger version of the De Niro/Pacino duo. Carla Gugino, smokin' hot as always, bats her eyelashes and struts her stuff as a police pathologist with a kinky streak. Brian Dennehy clocks in as the obligatory hard-boiled police lieutenant, while Curtis Jackson (better known as 50 Cent) sleepwalks through the stock role of a club owner of dubious disposition. It just goes to show that a great cast can't do it alone.


Jon Avnet, who guided Pacino through his paces in the equally clumsy 88 Minutes (for the same producers, no less), is simply not up to the task of overcoming the script's vast and many shortcomings. Even for the most devout devotees of the two superstars, Righteous Kill is merely a matter of killing time … and not in a particularly righteous way.

Bottom Line rated this film 2 stars.