Academy Award winners and serious Hollywood aristocracy, Robert De Niro and Al Pacino, star as a pair of veteran New York City police detectives on the trail of a vigilante serial killer in this psychological thriller directed by Jon Avnet and written by Russell Gewirtz.
The cast also features hip-hop superstar Curtis Jackson, Carla Gugino, John Leguizamo and Donnie Wahlberg. After 30 years as partners in the pressure cooker environment of the NYPD, highly decorated Detectives David Fisk and Thomas Cowan should be ready for retirement, but aren’t quite ready to go. Before they can hang up their badges, the pair are called in to investigate the murder of a notorious pimp, which appears to have ties to a case they solved years before.
Like the original murder, the victim is a suspected criminal whose body is found accompanied by a four line poem justifying the killing. When additional crimes take place, it becomes clear the detectives are looking for a serial killer, one who targets criminals that have fallen through the cracks of the judicial system. His mission is to do what the cops can’t do on their own – take the culprits off the streets for good. The similarities between the recent killings and their earlier case raise a nagging question: Did they put the wrong man behind bars?
Any film with Pacino and De Niro’s name attached must be a major event – they are, after all, the biggest actors of their generation. Unfortunately, their outing in this supposed thriller will do nothing for their legacy. Thirteen years after their sterling confrontation in Heat – the Michael Mann action express that set a whole new standard in crime thriller, the boys are back in town but are sadly let down by a weak script and action that goes nowhere fast.
If you go to the cinema expecting anything remotely like Heat, be prepared for a major disappointment. Playing cop partners rather than adversaries, this pair of old coots – Turk and Rooster – are the classic chalk and cheese combo – a charmer on one side and a cranky nark on the other. It might work in other circumstances, but falls way flat here. Add to that De Niro as the lover of a younger cop girlfriend, Guigno, and we’re definitely into fantasyland.
Following up on the cases involving a brutal pimp, a paedophile priest and an unrepentant rapist who slips through the legal system unfettered only to meet their fate at the hands of an amateur poet, Turk and Rooster are on the job with energy not appropriate to their ages, or tans in the case of Pacino. To see this pair, one aged 65 and the other 68, roughing up a suspect, you may have to resist the urge to call Age Action for guidance. In a plot that screams obvious at every turn, Righteous Kill definitely belongs in that category – “What were they thinking?” It’s hard to believe that two of Hollywood’s most veteran, and wealthy, actors would sign up for drivel of this quality.