So Robert De Niro and Al Pacino have been in three movies together, never appearing together in "The Godfather: Part II", sharing the screen just twice in "Heat" and then together for pretty much the whole of this movie "Righteous Kill". Now if you were attracted to watch "Righteous Kill" because it is De Niro and Pacino together the chances are you are going to be disappointed because not only is it quite an ordinary cop thriller but it isn't De Niro or Pacino at their best. If truth be told if you were just watching "Righteous Kill" because it is a cop thriller the chances are you will still be disappointed because it is not only messy but for all the red herrings is a very obvious movie which tries to suggest something but is so obviously something else. And the irony is that is you have watched it just because it is a cop thriller De Niro and Pacino end up the best thing about it.
Turk (Robert De Niro - Stardust) and Rooster (Al Pacino - Ocean's Thirteen) have been partners longer than they care to remember, loyal to each other and backing each other up professionally especially when they get investigated by IA over a sting operation which goes wrong. But with a serial killer targeting criminals on the loose they find themselves buddied up with younger detectives Perez (John Leguizamo) and Riley (Donnie Wahlberg) which not only leads to tension because Turk is screwing Perez's former girlfriend but the younger detectives suspect a cop is the serial killer.
That synopsis doesn't sound so bad but the movie starts with Turk appearing to be giving a confession to video camera suggesting he is behind a string of hits which have targeted low life criminals which have gotten off. What we then watch is a movie which aims to back this up, suggesting that Turk is killing criminals but also heading up the investigation team and having to deal with the younger detectives beginning to question whether he is the serial killer. Now depending on how observant you are will depend on how quickly you work out what is really going on or at least who the serial killer is because the clues are there from the outset. But even if you don't spot them immediately they become less and less subtle so even before half way in it becomes obvious who the killer is and that is a long time before it is eventually revealed.
That is one of the main problems with "Righteous Kill" because for all the attempts to lead you off the trail it is too obvious as to who is pulling the trigger. But this leads to another problem because to try and lead you off the scent "Righteous Kill" ends up a very messy movie, seriously disjointed which doesn't make it confusing but makes it hard work. By the sounds of it test screenings forced the studio to quickly edit the movie down from being over 2 hours to make it faster paced, which it is, but I reckon that may have been part of the issue as to why it ends up so disjointed and clunky.
Now the irony of "Righteous Kill" is that whilst it features De Niro and Pacino truly sharing screen time neither put in a great performance yet they end up the best thing about the movie. The trouble is that their characters are too thin and ordinary, one's a loose cannon the other more controlled and calculating which makes them text book. It is the same when it comes to Perez and Riley which means neither John Leguizamo and Donnie Wahlberg get to stamp their mark on them. As for the rest of the cast well Brian Dennehy and 50 Cent are both under used and when it comes to Carla Gugino as Corelli, Turk's lover, well the most interesting thing is that Cugino played De Niro's daughter in an earlier movie which must have made things interesting when it came to sex scenes.
What this all boils down to is that "Righteous Kill" is disappointing because firstly it is not De Niro and Pacino at their best but it is also very ordinary and obvious. The obviousness is a problem but no more than numerous other thrillers which just means that "Righteous Kill" is an average movie.