You know, it's nice to see Al Pacino and Robert DeNiro up on the big screen together. It's sort of sweet to see the two enjoy some banter back and forth, two grumpy older men who happen to be film legends. But is it worth sitting through the mediocre, thrill-less thriller that is Righteous Kill? I'm not so sure.
Much of the movie feels incredibly familiar, and my guess is it wouldn't have gotten any attention if it weren't for the promise of "DeNiro and Pacino reuniting on the big screen!!" The script — and, frankly, the performances — are lacking so much, these two huge legendary names in the credits can't save it. For more of my thoughts on this, read more.
DeNiro plays Turk and Pacino plays Rooster, two highly respected NYPD detectives put on the case of a serial killer who's been targeting acquitted criminals. Murderers, rapists, pimps — the scum of the earth types who were let off for whatever reason become the victims of this "righteous" killer. Thing is, Turk and Rooster know each of these victims, and Turk has been known to have a short fuse when it comes to the injustice of letting a dangerous perp go free. So, all eyes start turning toward him as a suspect in the serial killer case, and as he continues to hunt for the killer, some of his colleagues (played by John Leguizamo and Donnie Wahlberg) try to find proof that Turk's the one behind it all. Another member of the NYPD homicide department, Karen Kleisner (Carla Gugino who is one of the highlights of the film), is sort of Turk's kinky paramour, but even she begins to suspect him.
I enjoyed watching DeNiro in this role because for his part, he genuinely seems to be thinking about the role and the words he's saying, etc. But there's something about Pacino's performance that gives me the sense he's not all there, and it's frustrating to watch. The phrase "phoning it in" comes to mind. I think Pacino has it in him to be spectacular, but in this case, it's like he doesn't care enough to put in much effort. As a crime drama/thriller, there is some mystery and tension, but it reaches this low level of suspense and never quite ups the ante. I was never fully gripped by the story, just sort of mildly curious to find out what the deal was. And then, during the dramatic ending, I started checking my watch to see how much time we had left and I could have sworn the two main actors were doing the same thing.