January 14th, 2009

Righteous Kill

by Stephanie Segal • in Films
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In Righteous Kill Al Pacino and Robert De Niro play partners of 30 plus years in the NYPD. Somewhere in the 90 some odd minutes the question of their potential impending retirement from the force is raised. Their characters show little interest in it. I have advice for Pacino and De Niro (granted they’ve done just fine without me, at least until now). If this movie is representative of the kind of choices they plan to make from here on out, they might want to give the ol’ retirement plan a little consideration and keep their reputations and bodies of work safe.

I won’t beat around the bush. Righteous Kill is a terrible movie. What a disappointment. Film fans salivate at the notion of these two screen icons sharing a script. We dream of the gritty dialogue, the realness of the production, the stellar performances churned out side by side. So why is it these two decided to do this corny film, with its god-awful, phony, cliché-ridden, forced atrocious dialogue? To whom did they owe a simultaneous favor? All I can say is kudos to the casting agents who managed to get their signatures in pen on a contract. Shame on the writers, who, with their claws on one of the greatest of all time, Robert De Niro, give him lines that belong to a 14 year old girl, including, brace yourselves: Don’t Go There. And: Whatever. It was horrifying, worse than you are imagining. I guess we should be grateful he wasn’t made to do the ‘W’ symbol with his hands as he said it.

Don’t worry Pacinists; they saved some for Al, too. In an early exchange so overused and pathetic that when these Actors took their turn at it I looked at my husband and said ‘did they just do the ‘what conversation?’ and he nodded his head slowly with embarrassment, the die is cast. The viewer’s expectations and dreams are crushed. There is no return from:
De Niro: We never had this conversation.
Pacino: What conversation?
It was so sad. I think it was about five times that I blurted aloud: Did they just SAY that? There were very few believable moments when the legends were on the screen. Why oh why did they do it?

Moving on. Making what I think was his big screen debut and hopefully also his swan song, was Curtis Jackson. When I saw this name in the opening credits I didn’t recognize it, but when he appeared on screen I knew instantly: oh, its 50 Cent, trying to make a serious name for himself by appearing with The Legends, that’s why he isn’t using his moniker. No kudos to the casting agents on this one. Someone must either be a big fan of In Da Club (who isn’t?) or an even bigger fan of mumbling, because here’s a newsflash: Curtis Jackson/50 Cent cannot act. He can barely speak! My assumption was wrong. Smart money says he went by Curtis Jackson to protect his 50 Cent cred. Good move, Curtis/50.

The only moments I found enjoyable during Righteous Kill Me For Choosing This Movie were as a result of, get this, Donnie Wahlberg and John Leguizamo’s performances. They breathed some much needed life, humor and believability into the flick as the other detectives on the big case. All hail the B actors in the company of giants.

This movie has to be seen to be believed, but don’t see it. Really. There is zero hint of The Godfather, Dog Day Afternoon, or GoodFellas here. Even Heat, that other movie they did together over a decade ago that I yawned through, was galaxies better than this schmaltzy attempting to be slick disaster. So why is it that it merits even 18%? The story, though mainly obvious, does have a mildly interesting peak. Also, De Niro does deliver one great De Niro-y moment when he says: ‘I hate scumbags. I love shooting.’ in that trademark deadpan we all crave when purchasing our tickets to a De Niro event. And finally, I have to give it to the editors, who kept this lemon down to one hour 41. THANK YOU. Someone get them folks an Oscar.

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