Righteous Kill

Righteous Kill

**1/2

Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

Take two of the world's best actors. Cast them in familiar roles, doing what they do best. Surround them with an excellent supporting cast and provide them with a story full of danger, excitement and moral complexity. You ought to end up with a film that will entertain just about anybody. Sadly, Righteous Kill is not that film, but it's still well worth a look.

Robert De Niro and Al Pacino are Turk and Rooster, partners in a New York police department. They've both been in the job a long time and their teamwork is flawless, whether they're backing one another up in a tight spot, with guns blazing, or making excuses for each other in front of the boss. Neither man entered the job intending to become a hero, but somewhere along the way they came to care passionately about what they were doing, about their duty to protect people - and, ironically, it was this which led to their corruption.

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Now an old dodgy case has come back to haunt them as they and their department discover that someone is murdering criminals and suspicion starts to fly within the department itself. How far will each of them ultimately go to do what seems like the right thing?

This is a film full of twists and turns, as you might expect, though in places it's rather incoherent and one gets the impression that bits of the story have been carelessly edited out. A cheesy montage towards the end repeats obvious clues but doesn't properly fill in the gaps. The moral depth one might have hoped for isn't really there either, substituted for by sentiment. It relies heavily on its two capable leads, but by and large it gets away with it.

De Niro and Pacino are both mesmerising to watch, with tremendous chemistry. They make the most of their rather slight material and really deliver for their fans. Also impressive is Carla Gugino as Turk's aggressively masochistic detective girlfriend, ably standing up against her seasoned co-stars, and though she's much younger than De Niro their intelligently scripted relationship does, for once, just about make sense. It helps to keep us focused on the present in a film which is largely about trying to understand the past.

The direction in this film is weak, particularly disappointing after the beautifully designed opening credits, and one can't help but feel that these fine actors deserve better, but it's still an exciting journey which, at times, really will keep you guessing. It's an exciting ride - just one which, ultimately, doesn't take the audience to anywhere as interesting as we might have hoped.

Reviewed on: 25 Sep 2008
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Loyalties within a New York police department are really put to the test when it emerges that a serial killer is targeting criminals.
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Director: Jon Avnet

Writer: Russell Gewirtz

Starring: Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Carla Gugino, 50 Cent, John Leguizamo, Donnie Wahlberg, Brian Dennehy, Trilby Glover

Year: 2008

Runtime: 101 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: US

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