On the day that a serial killer that he helped put away is supposed to be executed, a noted forensic psychologist and college professor receives a call informing him that he has 88 minutes left to live.
In 16th century Venice, when a merchant must default on a large loan from an abused Jewish moneylender for a friend with romantic ambitions, the bitterly vengeful creditor demands a gruesome payment instead.
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. Written by
FINALLY! DeNiro! Pacino! Together! For more than one scene! I couldn't wait. I'm also happy to say that, while the film won't be winning any Oscars, it isn't bad by any means, and is certainly an improvement over Pacino and director Jon Avnet's last film, 88 Minutes. Avnet is growing as a filmmaker, and has learned from past mistakes. Righteous Kill is an acceptable mystery film, and of course, features two great performances from two of the greatest of all time.
Righteous Kill, despite having the two leads that it does, is really a director's film, and Jon Avnet cloaks the film in a black blanket of mystery very well. While the main plot twist of the film (and oh, there are many of them) is sort of obvious, the fact that there's more to it than that really helps the film and saves it from oblivion.
What I liked most about the film, however, was the casting of DeNiro in a role Pacino would normally play (the hotheaded cop who just can't seem to keep his mouth shut or stop cursing), and Pacino in a role DeNiro would normally play (the reserved, yet silently intense friend). The film is split up into two parts, each showcasing the talents of one of the legends. Unfortunately, I can't really describe the performances in a deep way without coming close to spoilers, but rest assured, both are excellent. John Leguizamo is a nice addition as a hot headed detective at odds with DeNiro, and Carla Gugino as the eye candy was not a mistake by any means. I have no comment on the inclusion of 50 Cent in this film. Thankfully, he doesn't have a ton of screen time.
The script of the film, on paper, isn't really good, but there's a few techniques that really work on screen, such as the main characters' nicknames, and the feeling that almost everyone in the film is bad. I definitely like Avnet a little more now. DeNiro and Pacino share a wealth of screen time and have a lot of meat to chew on as actors, especially DeNiro, who turns up the intensity and the New York accent (it's a little stronger here than it normally is). While the film won't go down as legendary, I think every fan of both actors will be pleased and will smile at numerous moments just because these two are playing off each other so often, and so well.
My complaints lie with the emotional feel of the film, which I felt wasn't strong enough. I wanted to shed tears in the end, but for some reason, I couldn't. I won't say the acting in the climax could have been stronger, but had it been done in a different way, I might have liked it a bit more. All in all, Righteous Kill is not a bad film, as it managed to keep my attention and hold me in suspense for it's duration without making me feel frustrated. It definitely requires your full attention, and may even require a couple of viewings.
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