De Niro ‘ Pacino deliver in ?Righteous Kill?

Andrew Fingerett

Hollywood veterans Robert De Niro and Al Pacino team up for the second time in ‘Righteous Kill,’ and they manage to cook up a thrillingly lame cop flick strung together by a repertoire of mildly amusing tough-guy quips and a disappointingly predictable twist.

Thomas Cowan (De Niro) and David Fisk (Pacino) are two New York City detectives who attempt to solve a series of murders committed by a suspiciously efficient serial killer. The duo reasons that only a cop could carry out so many flawless homicides. As if to confirm this, the film intersperses footage of Cowan confessing to the crimes almost directly after the opening credits. Unfortunately, most people have probably seen enough movies to instinctively realize that no screenwriter is going to feed an audience the climax after the first fade-in. Writer Russell Gewirtz certainly tried to surprise everyone. He failed.

But at least the audience is treated to some witty dialogue.’ I hate to have to spoil some of it, but my favorite moment was De Niro’s, ‘We never had this conversation,’ and Pacino’s outrageous reply, ‘What conversation?’ But that’s not all. ‘Righteous Kill’ contains such gems as ‘watch your back’ and ‘you will regret it,’ each line delivered with the superior voice inflection and impudent attitude we’ve all come to expect from the two aging stars. And that’s pretty much as interesting as they get. Come to think of it, they weren’t that witty.

The only quips that actually were pretty funny came from costars John Leguizamo and Donnie Wahlberg, who play two more detectives at odds with our heroes over which cop went Son of Sam on them. One almost wishes that they were this film’s centerpiece instead. Not even 50 Cent’s cameo would have saved this film if those two weren’t around to add some flavor to this infinitely recycled plotline. Although the inclusion of a hip-hop star is always a wonderful way to bolster a film’s reputation.

Two weeks from now I’m only going to remember a few brief moments from ‘Righteous Kill.’ One truly hilarious moment being the opening credits, in which De Niro and Pacino are seen blasting away at a shooting range while basking in the light of police sirens ‘- and listening to some hardcore rock music all the while. The other moments are all the ones that include cops punching and pointing guns at each other for no particular reason other than the fact that they think they’re awesome. And the police brutality. And let’s not forget the abandoned-warehouse chase scene.

The point is that all these moments fade into the subconscious, only to be used again as precedent when prosecuting future films that violate the sacred law of originality.

To the film’s credit, casting these actors as what are essentially assembly-line characters is bold.’ De Niro and Pacino accepted these roles for one of two reasons: either they sold out or they simply don’t care (although one can argue they sold out long ago).

One only wonders what would happen to this film if the cast excluded De Niro and Pacino. The phrase ‘straight to DVD’ comes to mind.