January 24, 2009
Review - " Righteous Kill " (on DVD) - By Roland Hansen
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Righteous Kill (Millenium Films)
Directed By: Jon Avnet
Starring: Al Pacino, Robert De Niro, John Leguizamo, Brian Dennehy,
Carla Gugino, Donnie Wahlberg
Most people respect the badge. Everybody respects the gun. But
nobody respects this movie.
There is a serial killer on the loose in New York City. But, not your
'normal' serial killer. This one has donned the mantle of vigilantism
and is taking out, one by one, the criminal scum of the earth that have
evaded justice. Veteran detectives David 'Turk' Fisk (Robert DeNiro)
and Thomas 'Rooster' Cowan (Al Pacino) take the case only to figure
out that a cop may be the vigilante murderer in "Righteous Kill."
Director Jon Avnet brings us a flat, unimaginative story that uses deception to, in theory, keep the audience on its toes and
guessing. What we're really guessing is why these two award winning veteran actors are doing in this festering turd of a
movie. Neither star shines, nor do the supporting players, as Avnet attempts to lead us by the nose with the not-so-clever
plot that splinters in several directions. We have the cops trying to find the vigilante before he can kill again (they are
unsuccessful, of course). Then there is Spider (Curtis Jackson) a club owning drug dealer that Fisk and Cowan are bound
and determined to bust. Carla Gugino plays Karen Corelli, a forensics cop who likes rough sex, is bedding Turk and digs up
dirt on the case. Brian Dennehy is wasted as the boss lieutenant whose sole job is to tell his men to find the killer. Fast.
As the criminal body count mounts, Turk and Rooster are joined by younger detectives Perez (John Leguizamo) and Riley
(Donnie Wahlberg) who raise the idea that the killer may be one of their own. Turk protests too much about the theory and,
of course, is a prime suspect. The cat and mouse chase to find the real killer twists and turns but the finger remains firmly
pointed at Turk. Unfortunately, the surprise ending will come as a surprise to no one. I guessed the outcome the moment
De Niro showed up on camera in literally the first minute of the film, and proved correct. I spent my wasted hour and a half
trying to give the film a critical look. However, I was so bored most of the time I had difficulty paying attention.
This "Action" flick has less to do with action than with the psychological profiles of Turk and Rooster. The former is sullen,
quick tempered and prone to doing what needs to be done, even planting evidence, to bring down criminals. The latter
is well adjusted, gregarious and without a care. As such, they, and everyone else, are black and white characters with little
If you are really curious to see two legendary actors work together again, I cannot stop you from wasting your money. But,
be forewarned, "Righteous Kill" is a dud of a film that tries to be clever but fails miserably.