Published Sep 11, 2008There is a distinctly straight-to-DVD feeling that plagues Righteous Kill, which is not dissimilar to the pervasive feeling of Avnets last critically panned murder mystery outing featuring Al Pacino, 88 Minutes.
While the script is certainly stronger than that of his previous failure, having sufficient red herrings and some thoughtful, if clichéd, characterizations, the haphazard assembly and substandard production values leave a negative overall impression on what might have been a passable thriller with less culturally significant stars.
When a professional actor such as Robert De Niro is seen on film visibly reading from cue cards, one can safely assume that it is intentional, especially given the unlikelihood of Brechtian subterfuge on the part of Mr. Avnet. Such oversights make the film entirely predictable from the get go, leaving an educated audience to feel like that one person at the beginning of The Sixth Sense who was saying, "Are we not supposed to know that Bruce Willis is dead?
Righteous Kill opens with Turk (Robert De Niro) confessing to the murders of some of New Yorks worst criminals. The film then flashes back to the frustrations he and his slightly more aloof partner Rooster (Al Pacino) have with a legal system that lets criminals back on the street because of technicalities.
While it is assumed that Turk is the one delivering his own brand of justice, a strange, borderline sadomasochistic sexual relationship he has with an emotionally damaged crime scene investigator, Karen Corelli (Carla Gugino), leads to questions of her involvement.
As yet another exploration of the grey areas between "good and "bad within the world of law enforcement, and further indictment of an inherently flawed judicial system, Kill is decent, if entirely obvious, in its aims and execution.
Some clever dialogue and occasionally intelligent characters keep the film afloat through its midsection, which is vital, as the film falls apart in its final act, ultimately winding up as something far more amusing than profound or moving. (Alliance)