Righteous Kill (2008)

Jon Avnet

Robert De Niro - Turk
Al Pacino - Rooster
Carla Gugino - Karen Corelli
Donnie Wahlberg - Detective Riley
Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson - Marcus "Spider" Smith
John Leguizamo - Detective Perez
Brian Dennehy - Lieutenant Hingus
Frank John Hughes - Charles Randall
Rob Dyrdek - Robert Milton Bradley

Genre - Crime/Drama

Running Time - 101 Minutes

Score - 2 Howls Outta 4

PLOT - In RIGHTEOUS KILL, Turk (Robert De Niro) and Rooster (Al Pacino) are two veteran cops working for the NYPD who are pretty much bordering on retirement. Turk and Rooster have been partners pretty much since day one, knowing each other extremely well both personally and professionally. During one of their final cases together, they deal with a serial killer who has a knack for leaving poetry after the murders. As more victims begin to surface and seem to have a connection with each other, it's believed that the killer is none other than a fellow police officer. A younger team of cops, Perez (John Leguizamo) and Riley (Donnie Wahlberg), suspect Turk as the killer and are doing everything they can to prove it, including making deals with a club-owning drug dealer, Spider (Curtis Jackson). Turk claims he's innocent and Rooster believes Turk's innocence. But is there more to what meets the eye?


STORY - It pains me to write this review because I'm a fan of both Al Pacino and Robert De Niro. You would think that putting the two together for the majority of the film for the first time ever [they were never in the same scene in 1978's THE GODFATHER II and they shared like 2 scenes in 1995's HEAT] would be genius and maybe even talk of Oscar buzz. But RIGHTEOUS KILL pretty much murders that idea and ends up being just a mediocre crime drama/mystery that one will probably figure out five minutes into the actual mystery. This is pretty sad since screenwriter Russell Gewirtz wrote the pretty cool INSIDE MAN, which this film is far from being. RIGHTEOUS KILL feels like a joke of a crime drama most of the time. The dialogue is pretty ridiculous. I mean, do cops actually talk like this? Hell, their characters were dispicable. Am I supposed to care about any of these people? They were all pretty much jerks and sexual deviants. I find that appealing in some people, but not in this film. Also, the film takes too long to really get going and for me to really care. It was like a feeling of "going through the motions" with this one, never really building up to anything substantial or important. And the identity of the killer could be seen a mile away, which is pretty pathetic since the point of RIGHTEOUS KILL is the mystery aspect. And even then, the explanation at the end took like 10 minutes to explain the whole reveal and it still really didn't make any sense. I have a feeling Gewirtz was aiming for SOMETHING but he never got there for whatever reason.

Still, the crappy screenwriting didn't bore me all the way and I did find some of it laughable at how predictable and dumb this film was. It was like the B-movie of all crime-dramas. Personally, if I wanted to watch a crime-drama about a police officer who also happens to be a serial killer, I'd watch Dexter. It's 100 times better in terms of story, direction, and acting. I'm just saying.

DIRECTION - Even though a massive improvement over the extremely horrible 88 MINUTES [which is 89 more than it deserves], Jon Avnet is still a hack. This dude has no idea of suspense, mystery, or direction action on screen that could thrill an audience. The pacing was REALLY off in this movie too. It was all over the place for me. How this dude continues to get jobs is beyond me. Still, I will say that his work is tighter than it is in 88 MINUTES as his choices of setting and editing seems more thought out. But I honestly don't think crime-dramas are this dude's niche and he needs to direct something in a totally different genre. He did good with that chick flick, FRIED GREEN TOMATOES. Stick with that, Avnet.

VIOLENCE/SEX/LANGUAGE [aka THE GOOD STUFF] - If you seen other R-Rated crime-dramas, you probably already know what to expect here. We have the usual cop violence, meaning guns and physical attacks. As for the sex, we have De Niro banging Gugino from behind rough. There's also some skin from Gugino but SIN CITY had more. Alot of sexual innuendos too. And we have the usual foul/racial slurred language we have come to expect from a film like this.

ACTING - RIGHTEOUS KILL doesn't have the worst acting in the world, but nothing that's gonna win any awards. Robert De Niro has done a lot better work [a LOT better], but he still tries to make the most of it. He really begins to show his age in this film, giving Turk a level of maturity and frustration a younger actor probably wouldn't have been capable of. Al Pacino is the total opposite, chewing up the scenery but being really calm and subtle. The short time they had in HEAT is more exciting than all the time they spend in RIGHTEOUS KILL, but it's cool to see two acting legends together. I just wish the script and their motivation for being in this film were better. Carla Gugino is pretty bad here though. Not only was her character really written horribly, but it seemed as if she didn't really give a shit about acting here and took it like a joke. Yeah, I felt the same way watching it but at least convince me that you give a fuck. Donnie Wahlberg and John Leguizamo were actually pretty decent as the younger cops, never really being overshadowed by the presence of De Niro and Pacino. They held their own admirably. And Curtis Jackson was okay too, even though he was the weaker of the all the actors besides Gugino. At least he never embarrasses himself here. Decent cast for a horrible script. Shame.

MUSIC - We have the usual hip-hop music and thrilling score we usually get in these type of genre films. Nothing really sticks out.

is an improvement over 88 MINUTES, but is that really saying alot? It's really disappointing for a De Niro and Pacino fan since this movie never reaches the caliber of what they two are truly capable of. I dunno if they have anything left in their tanks anymore at this point. Watching two legends aimlessly act in a mediocre film just for the paycheck is worse than watching bad actors actually attempt to make you care about their characters and the film they're in. It's a decent 101 minute time waster but besides that, I wouldn't bother watching RIGHTEOUS KILL again. Truly disappointing work.


  1. Isn't it amazing that the names Robert DeNiro or Al Pacino attached to a flick these days is actually a bad thing? Total has beens, sorry to say it!

  2. I agree with you on this one Fred. . .
    [though I have never seen 88 minutes - I too prefer Dexter over both!] :-)

  3. This should have gone straight to video. What a disappointment. The best part was 50 cent's death.

  4. I barely remember this film at all. But yeah, it's definitely no HEAT.


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