Righteous Kill movie poster
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Righteous Kill movie poster

Righteous Kill Movie Review

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Al Pacino and Robert DeNiro team up once again in the new serial killer movie Righteous Kill, an event that should be exciting for any film fan. Unfortunately, someone invited Al's new favorite director Jon Avnet to the party.

Avnet last directed Pacino in this year's 88 Minutes, and what a cluster that was. My thinking was that perhaps Avnet had learned from his mistakes with that one (poor pacing, weak story and shoddy directing) and made a masterpiece with Righteous Kill, but what I discovered about three minutes into the film was that mathematics work. What the hell do I mean by that, you ask? Here's the function: Al Pacino (positive) times Jon Avnet (negative) equals a negative. Al Pacino (positive) times Robert DeNiro (positive) times Jon Avnet (negative) equals...a bigger negative. Yes, Righteous Kill is that bad.

The movie is about two longtime partners who are assigned to a case to investigate the deaths of several bad guys. Poetry is left behind, and it's clear that a serial killer is at work. Of course, since the victims are all creeps, the logical conclusion is that the killer is, in fact, a police officer. Is it Donnie Wahlberg, who is upset that this fall he has to star in this movie rather than a Saw sequel? Or is it John Leguizamo, who wonders how get screwed over by starring in the one Pacino/DeNiro film that sucks? Or is it one of the esteemed actors, who realized that their fading careers have, in fact, led them to this painful juncture in life? Or is it someone else?

While neither DeNiro or Pacino is great here, the real problem is the screenplay by Russell Gewirtz and the direction by Avnet. It's amazing that Gewirtz can produce such a smart and edgy film like Inside Man and then follow it up with a complete pile of crap. Righteous Kill lacks the originality and complexity that DeNiro and Pacino so desperately need to satisfy fans. Of course, a bad director can massacre a decent script - or make a travesty out of a bad one - and Avent is that director. His decision to show flashbacks, therefore effectively killing any pacing or plausibility of the picture, is disastrous. It became obvious to me who the killer was within the first few minutes, and that is not good. To make matters worse, the movie lacks suspense, excitement and energy, three things I was really looking forward to with Pacino and DeNiro together.

Basically, Righteous Kill is a disappointing waste of time. I didn't go in with huge hopes, but I figured a DeNiro/Pacino movie had to be decent. I was wrong. There's no sense of greatness or power when the two are on the screen, and maybe that's because they have so little to do. Righteous Kill is boring and predictable.

Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.

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