Sunday, September 28, 2008

Righteous Kill

"Mediocre" is the word for Righteous Kill, a strictly by-the-numbers cop drama / murder mystery which plays out like an unnecessarily blown-up episode of Law & Order. It's basically about - oh, wait, that's right, no one (including the filmmakers it seems) gives a shit what it's about, just that it's starring Al Pacino and Robert De Niro and they share nearly every scene. So how are they?

Okay, I guess. The two acting titans both have undeniably powerful screen presence and watching them chew the same scenery is a bloody feast indeed. But they mostly play exactly into the hands of their own stereotypes - Pacino's voice rasps out behind some sickening amount of gravel as if he's a near-death throat cancer victim, while De Niro carries his trademark squint for damn near every frame. It's entertaining, yes, but would I call either a great performance one second after the credits begin to roll? Not in the least.

But getting back to the plot, Pacino and De Niro play two NYPD cops (god damn is this movie original or what??) assigned to track down a serial killer who offs criminals. That's pretty much it. And the plot unfolds like a million and one movies before it; rigid, unyielding, and painfully predictable clockwork. That's not to say it's out-and-out bad necessarily, because formula by and large becomes formula because it works at least to some degree, but holy fucking shit is it predictable. The final twist is nothing short of insulting. Here, watch the trailer. Now guess the final twist. The first, most absurdly obvious thing you can think of. Yep, that's it.

It's almost a meta-twist because it's SO fucking obvious I didn't even think they'd go there, but fuck me I guess. I'm kind of surprised it's from the writer of Inside Man; I had a few problem with that movie but one thing it wasn't was predictable.

But perhaps more so than the plot I was bothered by the tone, dark and gritty to the point of becoming comical, hurling as much profanity, sexual deviancy, rape, gruesome murder, blood, drugs, and everything else at the wall as they could, hoping some of it will stick and make their movie edgy and badass like Se7en. Of course none of those elements bother me - no one is more desensitized than I am - but at a certain point it just becomes truly juvenile, like a grade schooler who just learned to swear or something. An odd criticism for me to be making of a movie where the average actor age is easily twice my own, but by the end I was literally rolling my eyes. Nonstop cocaine and headshots and profanity doesn't make your movie super cool, Righteous Kill director, it just makes you look like a child.

So all in all, unless you fucking live for Al Pacino or Robert De Niro or just have such a hard-on for cop thrillers you have to see them all, Righteous Kill just ain't righteous. Save your time and money.

2 Stars out of 5

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