Righteous Kill
review by Neo

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Year: 2008

Box Office: US$76.7 million

Director: Jon Avnet

Producer: Avi Lerner, Boaz Davidson, Daniel M. Rosenberg, Lati Grobman, Randall Emmett

Screenplay: Russell Gewirtz

Starring: Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, 50 Cent, Carla Gugino, Donnie Wahlberg

Genre: Thriller/Crime

Tagline: A film saved by De Niro and Al Pacino…

Review by Neo: It is no surprise that a cliché and routine thriller script requires the likes of Robert De Niro and Al Pacino to lifts it from the tatters. In a way the one twist thriller actually worked, but that’s only if you can suspend your beliefs and actually dip into the movie without questioning the outcome or events. For a moment or two, it seems as though Al Pacino is just collecting his paycheck, at times, he seems to be sleepwalking through the role, but like all great actors, Pacino have the ability to surprise you. The moment Pacino went crazy; he easily overshadowed his counterpart in De Niro and probably made you buy the story and his character along with everything. That is the impact of the aging Pacino and at that split moment, it reminded me once again, why he once made a little movie called Scarface.

The movie goes like this: Al Pacino and De Niro are two cops and together they have a vision that is to put those bad guys behind bars. However, the law is somehow always allowing criminals to go free, with numerous loopholes and then one day, they decided to frame one of the bad guys for possessing drugs and weapon, just to put the wrong things right. Before long, one by one, former suspects are killed by a cop with a vengeance.

Having criticised the script and movie for being a tat cliché, it must be noted that it is still a workman-like thriller. Still, given the fact that this is De Niro and Al Pacino first real pairing, it just feels like yet another wasted opportunity. De Niro is a wondrous actor and has certainly aged well, in comparison to Al Pacino and it must be admitted for the first three-quarters of the film, I thought he outshined Al Pacino and the way he handled the conflicted role is to be complimented. As for Al Pacino it is needless to claim that he is a great actor, as he is already who he is. He can sleepwalk through a role and still somehow make it more convincing than it should be. He is an actor that only requires one real moment or sudden burst of anger/shock/craziness and he will deliver. Al Pacino is just that type of actor and clearly at his very best when playing someone who is allowed to stretch their limits. Here, Al Pacino is almost perfect in the final third of the flick and almost single-handedly made the movie more convincing than it should be. Carla Gugino is impressive as always and given the paper thin script, I must admit, I quite like the way she is able to stand on her own alongside the likes of Niro and Pacino.

All in all, Righteous Kill is not a bad movie and at its very best, it is easily a workable and watchable thriller in its own right. It is a shame that the script just fails to match the expectations one would have in the sighting of the cinematic greats on the DVD cover. Still, there is a lot to like about the performances of the two great male leads and the twist was more interesting than contrived. There are moral dilemmas within the film, posing questions as to whether someone who have done extremely bad things, but somehow stepped within the loopholes of the law, equates to justify killings. Likewise, it poses the issue of whether or not, just simply killing the suspect, rather than collecting years of evidences, is a better way of saving valuable tax payer money. Anyhow, the film fails in regards to thinking big and whilst not a complete failure, the film is not able to set anything on fire. Then again, with actors like Niro and Pacino, it is difficult not to be disappointed, but in reality, the film is easily above average. … (Neo 2009)

I rate it 6.5/10

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