Righteous Kill - DVD Review

'it would be nice to write that two stars such as DeNiro and Pacino saved the film but they don’t'

It wouldn’t of taken much to beat Pride and Glory (which I’ve since read some good reviews of, but remain unconvinced) in the ‘police action-thriller-mystery’ stakes and I had pretty high hopes for Righteous Kill, despite the poor reviews.

In a recent review of The Bucket List, UK critic Mark Kermode (once again I point you in the direction of his and Simon Mayo’s podcast: very entertaining) described it as being largely rubbish but in the end saved because ‘stars are stars’. There he was referring to Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson but you could perhaps create an even better argument for that when you take into account Righteous Kill’s leading men are Al Pacino and Robert DeNiro.

In the end though, almost inexplicably, Righteous Kill ends up being at least as bad as Pride and Glory, if not worse!

Anchoring Righteous Kill is, unfortunately a predictable storyline full of flabby character development and a dodgy ‘rough sex’ motif that keeps on appearing. However, really anchoring Righteous Kill is the main criminal element in Director Jon Avnet. Rather than slow the pace down for senior citizens Pacino and DeNiro, a la Heat, Avnet speeds it up with quick cuts and shaky-cam shots, mistaking the occasional use of slow motion for a tool to pace the plot. It’s far too rushed for a slow burn thriller featuring actors that are better talking things through then they are running a marathon.

By rushing through his plot he never stops to give us hints on whom the eventual villain might be, beyond the obvious contender, making the conclusion utterly unsatisfying. Really though, whoever scriptwriter Russell Gewirtz had made the killer, it wouldn’t of mattered because he doesn’t stop for a moment to tell us anything about the characters. Why, for example, does Perez (John Leguizamo) hate Turk (DeNiro) other than a few rough games of baseball? How does Baum (Alan Blumenfeld) seem to know half the plot of the film without actually being involved in it at all? And why the hell does Corelli (Carla Gugino) like rough sex so much?!

It would be nice to write that two stars such as DeNiro and Pacino saved the film but they don’t. Neither appears to be overly interested in what they’re doing or who they are, with DeNiro perhaps marginally qualifying as the worse offender. Having said that with character’s whose on-page development must have been ‘he’s mid 50’s, he gets on with his mate, he’s a cop, he hates criminals’ what can you honestly expect stars to do?

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