Friday, September 12, 2008

Righteous Kill

“This thing is a clusterfuck to end all clusterfucks.”

Turk (Robert De Niro) and Rooster (Al Pacino) are two warhorse detectives for the NYPD. We learn early on that they’re good cops who take the job seriously, but aren’t above taking shortcuts for justice when the courts let them down.

Things get sticky for Turk, who presents the tale from a taped video through a serious of flashbacks, when a recent string of deaths begin to lead back to him. His Lieutenant (Brian Dennehy) and the cops working the case (John Leguizamo, Donnie Wahlberg) believe they have a cop serial killer on their hands, with Turk being the most likely suspect.

The film centers on De Niro’s character, his job, and his unhealthy relationship with a crime scene investigator (Carla Gugino). There are also subplots involving the cops trying to take down a local drug dealer (50 Cent) with the help of a lawyer (Trilby Glover), and a woman (Melissa Leo) whose daughter was brutally killed by her boyfriend.

The performances are all first-rate as the supporting cast all raise their games to act with this pair.

I was particularly impressed with Glover, who I have not seen that much of, and 50 Cent who has some definite talent for the movie baddie role. And props to all the actors playing cops in the film who have the right feel for the role (plus I’m always happy to see Gugino on screen).

Although rough in spots (and not only the sex between De Niro and Gugino) the film does a have a tale to tell, even if it meanders a bit in its storytelling. It’s a bit long, and the final act, with its twists and turns, may put off some movie-goers. The late revelations also lack the pop and resonance they should given the film’s understated tone throughout.

Righteous Kill is a good film, but for a film starring De Niro and Pacino is that enough? Judging the film on its own merits, yes. It won’t live up to expectations, but there are good performances and a story (especially the first two-thirds of the script) that are worthy of notice. Is it a great film? No, but it is worth a look.

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