Rating: 2 stars
Al Pacino and Robert DeNiro don’t just make movies anymore. They make Al Pacino and Robert DeNiro movies. They’re always riffing off their past work and their iconic status.
I just checked out their imdb pages. The last real performance Al Pacino gave was in 2002’s Insomnia. For DeNiro, it goes even further back—to 1995’s Heat. (Don’t talk to me about Analyze This or Meet the Parents—those are meta performances: What if DeNiro was your therapy patient? What if DeNiro was your father-in-law?).
Of course, Heat is apropos—that was the last time the two titans worked together. Director Michael Mann carefully modulated their parallel lives—cop and criminal; hunter and prey—until a brief, but explosive union.
In Righteous Kill, DeNiro and Pacino are together all the time. They’re a couple of old school, tough-guy cops, long-time partners and best friends.
One thing I’ve always said—if you’re going to do a cop film, it better be a whole helluva lot better than an average episode of Law & Order or CSI. And, in this case, if you’re going to do a cop movie where one cop is a self-righteous serial killer (he only kills to get the scum off the street), it better be a helluva lot better than an average episode of Dexter.
Righteous Kill tries to add a touch of titillation in the form of DeNiro’s girlfriend (Carla Gugino, too gorgeous to believably be paired with that old coot), an S&M devotee who likes when he plays rough. But, like everything else in the film, her character is perfunctory and underwritten.
In the end, Righteous Kill is really quite ordinary. It banks on the fact that the legendary presences of DeNiro and Pacino will elevate it to some exalted status. But I’ve got bad news for director Jon Avnet. Al Pacino and Robert DeNiro aren’t Al Pacino and Robert DeNiro anymore.