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Heather's Movie Review: Righteous Kill

Updated on November 13, 2011

Robert De Niro. Al Pacino. Great actors with the awards to prove it. An unstoppable force when in a scene together let alone an entire movie. Their singular scene together in 1995's Heat made that film's extensive running time irrelevant. The scene was an epic battle between master thief and master cop. For Righteous Kill, De Niro and Pacino were on the right side of the law this time to stop a serial killer.

The story started off with a killer confession and flashed back to the beginning to understand the confession. Long time partners Turk (De Niro) and Rooster (Pacino) demonstrated their strong bond based on a case with a suspect that skated on a murder charge. This case determined the coarse of their partnership and the rest of the story based on Turk's actions. Fast forward to a new case with a routine drug arrest that resulted in Turk and Rooster getting into a lot of trouble. The partners used their attitude and friendship once again to maneuver around a police inquiry.

Once Turk and Rooster were cleared, the serial killer case had gotten presented to them. The case involved a suspect murdering villains from Turk's past cases which varied based on crime and crime scene location. With further investigation, the killer's body count went to 14 and Turk became a prime suspect despite his vehement denials. Rooster tried to defend his partner to their superiors to little avail. As the climax neared, the killer crossed a line when Turk's colleague and lover Karen Corelli (Carla Gugino) was attacked. Pretty soon the killer revealed themselves and justice was soon wrapped in a neat little bow, except for the partnership between Turk and Rooster. Their bond was no longer as solid as it once was.

Nothing original came from Kill's mystery plot, which was the movie's biggest weakness. Everything about Kill's story had a familiar feel that echoed a lot of past crime films superior or otherwise. The serial killer case was completely textbook down to the big serial killer reveal, which was pretty obvious within 20 minutes of the film. The story's mystery wasn't really a mystery because the clues were revealed like glaring road signs. Once the case was resolved, there were more questions than answers. The movie's only saving grace that elevated it from straight to late night cable movie channels was the acting performances.

Despite the B movie script, Pacino and De Niro didn't disappoint as the film's two big ticket draws because their friendship was believable. Their rapport made the audience believe that these two actors were friends off-screen as well. The actors both used their habitual acting techniques to better interact in their scenes. Pacino dialed down his usual screaming ham routine from his more recent films to play yin to De Niro's hotheaded yang. Everything about Pacino's Rooster was controlled and mannered until the film's end. De Niro, on the other hand, used his quiet intensity from past films and made it explode every time someone got in his face. The supporting cast also made the Swiss cheese plot relatively entertaining by playing off the lead's chemistry.

Ultimately, De Niro and Pacino seemed to have fun working together onscreen. The audience seemed to enjoy their camaraderie. Hopefully, their next pairing can come with a better storyline instead of reheated material.


2.5 of 5 Stars


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