Review by Gordon Justesen
Stars: Robert De Niro, Al
Pacino, Curtis Jackson, Carla Gugino, Donnie Wahlberg, Trilby Glover, Brian
Dennehy, John Leguizamo
Director: Jon Avnet
Audio: Dolby TrueHD 5.1
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 2.35:1
Studio: Anchor Bay
Features: See Review
Length: 103 Minutes
Release Date: January 6, 2009
“Most people respect the badge. Everybody respects the gun.”
It’s taken quite a long time to get a film where legendary actors Robert De Niro and Al Pacino were literally on screen together for most of the entire film, even though they’ve been in two excellent films before. There was The Godfather, Part II which had there characters generations apart. Then came the brilliant Heat, which brought the actors together for one brief but crucial on screen moment.
Now comes Righteous Kill, in which De Niro and Pacino share a great deal of screen time side by side, just as fans of theirs have always wanted to see. The only question is, is the movie worthy of this legendary pairing? Well, while I won’t admit that this was the absolute best project to bring these two together (this doesn’t even begin to compare with Heat), the movie is entertaining enough and gets by thoroughly on the intensity of its lead actors.
Turk (De Niro) and Rooster (Pacino) are longtime friends and partners in the NYPD. Their latest case is a slippery one. They are pursuing a serial murderer who has been targeting a number of guilty suspects who have been let go due to technicalities.
The two veteran cops are assisted in the investigation with fellow cops Riley (Donnie Wahlberg) and Perez (John Leguizamo). A number of murders into the investigation, Rooster comes to the conclusion that the suspect may very well be one of the NYPD’s very own. Turk, however, doesn’t buy that for a second.
The story is told in an unusual narrative, with a lead character giving a videotaped confession to a series of murders, with the rest of the story leading up to the taped confession. I must admit, I was thrown off by this a bit, thinking how in the world is this going to tie up in the end and still manage a level of suspense in the end. Then the movie throws a twist in the end, to which I felt like an idiot for not having speculated it.
I will say this about the movie, I never thought in a million years director Jon Avnet would be able to pull off another thriller after directing Al Pacino in the disastrous 88 Minutes. Much to my surprise, and in the very same year, Avnet has redeemed himself with an action thriller that is vastly superior in every way, shape and form. Needless to say, he and Pacino are now forgiven for the god awful earlier movie.
In the end, I do wish Righteous Kill had added up to being a bit more than a standard cop thriller, especially with such cinematic pros like De Niro and Pacino in tow. But then I got to thinking, in this day and age we’ve got to accept the fact that we’re never going to get another Godfather Part II or Heat, so if this is the best film that can bring two greats together than so be it. Thankfully though, as I mentioned, the movie is entertaining at just the right level, with De Niro and Pacino making the most of it and clearly having a ball acting side by side, and in the end that’s all that counts.
Anchor Bay delivers another striking addition to their ever expanding Blu-ray library. The HD anamorphic picture shines in all areas. Image quality is strong and fully detailed from beginning to end. Some grain can be noticed in some early shots, but from what I can tell it was intended. Colors are straight up magnificent, and every set piece is brought to authentic life!
The Dolby TrueHD mix is as strong as I completely expected for an intense cop thriller like this. And sure enough, when bullets are fired they sound loud and forceful. Music and dialogue delivery are both in grand form as well. The only minor flaw is that during some scenes I kept hearing a static buzz go off in some of the quieter scenes. For all I know, the problem could lie within the copy I got.
The Blu-ray edition includes a commentary track with director/producer Jon Avnet, as well as two featurettes; “The Investigation: An In-Depth Look at Righteous Kill” and “The Thin Blue Line: An Exploration of Cops and Criminals”, and a Theatrical Trailer.
Also included is a Bonus Disc containing a Digital Copy of the movie.
Righteous Kill is a movie that fans of legends Robert De Niro and Al Pacino deserve to see. It’s pure fun to watch these two interact on screen. They make the most out of what could have been a very mediocre movie.