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Righteous Kill


Stars: Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Carla Gugino, Curtis Jackson, Donnie Walhberg,Brian Dennehy, John Leguizamo, Trilby Oliver, Shirley Brener, Melissa Leo, Alan Rosenberg

Director: Jon Avnet

De Niro and Pacino, who briefly shared the screen in Heat, are pointlessly reunited for this sloppily scripted (by Russell Gerwitz who wrote the infinitely superior Inside Man) and deeply disappointing New York-set thriller.

Presumably somebody made them an offer they couldn’t refuse. It’s hard to see any other reason for their wasting their time playing about-to-retire veteran NYPD detectives hunting for a savage serial killer who has been disposing of suspected criminals in the Big Apple.

The script and Avnet’s uninteresting direction unfortunately left me with the ignoble impression that the two stars had tossed a coin to see who would play the ‘big’ climactic scene in which scenery could be chewed for effect. But by then, I found it hard to care who was doing what and to whom and why. There was little logic or credibility in the noir-ish goings-on, particularly as it becomes easier and easier to guess whodunit.

De Niro, who looks depressingly like a lined Anthony Quinn in sequences showing him talking to a black and white television camera, enjoys one amusingly skewed scene in which, while relieving himself in a club, a woman comes into the toilet and proceeds to cut coke, sniff it up and then offer him a snort. Otherwise he and Pacino simply go through the motions and who can blame them? Also involved are Gugino, as a CIS officer, Wahlberg and Leguizamo as fellow police officers and Dennehy, who gives the most convincing performance in the inevitably cliched role of their world-weary police lieutenant boss.

“Most people respect this badge”, says De Niro, “Everyone respects the gun”. Few will respect this film.

Alan Frank

USA 2008. UK Distributor: Lionsgate. Colour.
100 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 3, Drugs 3, Swearing 3.

Review date: 28 Sep 2008