Al Pacino and Robert De Niro have given us years of great performances in great films, but now they're getting old and perhaps they've seen better days talent-wise, and maybe they've accomplished as much as they ever will. So now it's time to get CRAZY PAID, baby! They figured maybe one way to get a nice chunk of change is to finally work on a film together. Sure they were both in Heat, but only for one scene. This time they could team up for the entire running time and since they're just doing shit movies for the cash anyway, they should just pick something remotely interesting, which I guess is how Righteous Kill came to be.
The reviews for this flick were yeeesh, and I remember Jim Norton on the Opie and Anthony show trashing it mercilessly, so I decided to wait for it on DVD. But thanks to a friend who had it, I didn't have to pay any rental fees to see what the big deal about this movie was. Permanently borrowed, bitch!
The opening credits are the best thing in the entire movie. The whole point doesn't seem to be so much on selling you what an interesting movie you are about to watch, but more like getting you to go "Wow! Can you believe it?! Pacino and De Niro are together again and kicking some fuckin' ass, baby!". It's a title sequence that consists of our two leads doing some target practice while hard-pounding music blares over the soundtrack and the credits come WHOOSH-ing in between shots. This is also intercut with quick scenes of each character in their after-work environments; you have De Niro coaching softball and you have Pacino schooling dudes at chess. At one point, the room starts strobing red & blue police lights and our boys start going to work on the paper targets with submachine guns. They also yell to each other what kind of shots they're about to make before doing so while smiling and laughing and being all "Yeah Baby!" about it. The only thing missing is a shot of them popping open some brews and chuckling afterwards.
So Pacino and De Niro are detectives for the NYPD, and I guess they do such a good job that nobody ever notices that these two are way past retirement age. I'm sure they're supposed to be playing younger, but goddamn, it's way too obvious that these guys shouldn't be playing these guys. Don't hold me to this, but I think the last time they both played active law-enforcers was in 2002, when Pacino did Insomnia and De Niro did Showtime. That's also the last time they looked believable doing that shit. It doesn't help that the parts are written in such a way that I'm sure they were never intended to be played by senior citizens. There are a couple of references about them being old, but it comes off like those lines were shoehorned into the script somewhere along the way, like the filmmakers watched the dailies and realized just how fucking OLD the two leads looked and had to do something to soften the blow from the Ridiculous Hammer.
But a few last-minute lines don't help at all. There's a scene where De Niro's character is coaching a little league game (the most believable thing he does in this flick, by the way), and watching on the sidelines FROM HIS MOTORCYCLE is Pacino. That's some shit I can see someone like Colin Farrell pulling off. But all I'm thinking while watching Pacino pulling that shit is "I hope that old man doesn't fall off, he might break his hip". Then after the game, you see Pacino chilling out by his chopper with a couple of college-age girls, and I'm like Really? I'm supposed to believe that? Or maybe the girls are going "Awww, look at Grandpa on his bike". This movie was directed by the same guy who directed 88 Minutes, also with Pacino. In that one, we're treated to the sad sight of homeboy getting his groove on to some hip-hop in a nightclub along with some girls in their twenties. You know what, Mr. Pacino? Maybe you should stop working with Jon Avnet, because I don't think he likes you. In fact, he might be having fun at your expense by setting you up in scenes that only make you look incredibly goofy at your age.
Yeah, Jon Avnet. This dude also directed Fried Green Tomatoes, which I liked, and an awesome made-for-television flick called Uprising. Now he's making flicks where Al Pacino looks too old for this shit. I don't know what the fuck happened to this motherfucker, maybe he's serious and thinks it doesn't look wrong. I say that because even his filmmaking has changed in the same way that a guy going through a midlife crisis has changed. Maybe this guy likes going out at nightclubs with girls young enough to be his granddaughters, and finds nothing odd about Pacino doing the same. I know most filmmakers gradually change their styles, so I'll give homes the benefit of the doubt and say he's just trying to have some fun and shake it up. I just don't fucking think it works.
Anyway, there's someone out there killing criminals who walked away free for shit they obviously were guilty from, and for some odd reason, this is considered a crime, so our two leads are trying to find out who it is. Along for the ride are two younger detectives, played by John Leguizamo and Donnie Wahlberg. The funny thing is that I think this movie would've played much better and certainly a hell of a lot more believable if Leguizamo and Wahlberg had played the two main characters. They look to be somewhere in their late 30's or early 40's -- old enough that you can buy them as guys who have been on the job long enough to see some shit, but not fucking ancient relics who should be well into collecting Social Security, either. The problem is that if this movie was cast with them as the leads, this shit would've most likely gone straight-to-video, where a movie with a script of this quality belongs.
Carla Gugino is here as Officer Slutty McWhore, she's a CSI-type or something and if you're both a fan of Ms. Gugino and of watching a woman get sexually assaulted, then the past six months must have been great for you, between this movie and Watchmen. Seek help, by the way. You have some issues in need of working out. Her character is interesting in that she not only seems to have slept with every swinging dick on the force, but is very much into the rough stuff. She likes getting her hair pulled and getting treated like the whore she apparently is. You figure she's already getting her share of punishment by having an old and fat Bobby De Niro giving her the high Viagra'd one nightly.
There's also this blonde chick that caught my eye. She plays the kind of very young and incredibly attractive lawyer that only exists in shitty movies (and the occasional good one). I was so into her, I even looked her up in the IMDB. It's there that I found she was also in 88 Minutes and a television show called The Starter Wife -- both Jon Avnet projects. So you know he probably made a move or jerked it to her a couple of times at least, using his sense memory to bring up her face and remember her scent, at least if Avnet is anything like me. Her character ultimately doesn't add much to the movie. You think the movie is going somewhere with her, but nope it really doesn't. I'm a bit smitten with this lady, and I look forward to seeing her in Avnet's next piece-of-shit.
Some dude named Curtis Jackson is in this flick too, and he's okay, but I wonder why they didn't just cast 50 Cent, since he looks a lot like this motherfucker. Probably a better actor too.
Finally you have Brian Dennehy as the Lieutenant. I figure they picked him out for the role not only because he's a good actor, but because thankfully he's older than our two leads. I bet it was hard to find someone to play the authority figure for these two who wasn't already dead. Listen, I'm not saying you can't do it this way, but it's just obvious based on the dialogue and the way Pacino and De Niro are acting that this shit was written to go with much younger loose-cannon detectives and the Lieutenant being the older, wiser cop to set them straight.
I'm reminded of the man, the legend, Muthafuckin' Clint Eastwood. Clint's older than all of these guys, but he's all too fuckin' aware of it, and his age has been a running theme in his flicks for the past twenty years. When they gave him the script for Space Cowboys, he turned it down. He told the studio that he thought it was a good story, but the idea of someone his age going through the NASA program was fucking ridiculous. It was only after John Glenn went back up into space at the age of 77 that Eastwood changed his mind. You can't argue with real life, I guess. He's also said that another Dirty Harry movie is highly unlikely for the same reason; motherfucker would've been well into retirement by now. This dude at least wants to make sure that the audience could believe him in whatever role he chooses to play, and I think that's one of my main problems with Righteous Kill -- the leads are about ten years too late for me to believe them.
The other problem is that it's just a lame movie. But I didn't feel it was nearly as bad as I heard it was -- at first. For the first two-thirds, I felt I was overhyped of the film's badness, and instead of watching slack-jawed at a cinematic trainwreck, I merely found it depressingly mediocre. But then somewhere along the way, rather than decide to slowly chug-a-lug its way to a feh conclusion, the movie decides to take a stand and change things...for the worse. Holy shit, does this movie take a turn for the worse. It was at this point that Righteous Kill became the so-bad-it's-good flick I've been hearing about. Too little too late, though. It's like the filmmakers were more concerned about putting one over you, that they didn't seem to care if the shit made any sense.
By the climax of the film (which appears to have been shot on the leftover set of some mid-80's rock video, complete with rock video lighting), every weak-assed cliche from every fucking low-budget straight-to-video Skinamax crime drama is trotted out. My favorite bit is when the villain takes advantage of another person's weak moment by running away. The next shot that follows has the villain yelling "Bye-bye!" as he jumps down a stairwell. It is some funny shit. The only thing missing was having the villain wear a cape and mask and maybe drop a smoke bomb too when he did it. Or maybe he could carry an umbrella that allows him to fly away and he can go "Gotta fly!". Oh wait, I think that last one was already done. I'm just saying it wouldn't look out of place.
The guy who wrote this movie also wrote Inside Man. Now I really liked Inside Man, but unless this shit was rewritten by other motherfuckers, I'm going to now give Spike Lee all the credit for the success of that movie. Because this was a terrible fucking script, man. It doesn't help when there's the occasional line of dialogue that reeks of the writer being proud of himself for having written it either, like "She's got my sperm level so low, I've got to sit down to take a piss." Plus it's De Niro in his late 60's saying that line, so now you're figuring that motherfucker is probably sitting down three or four times a night to take a piss. You know, because he's old. Tap tap tap, is this thing on?
De Niro and Pacino only share one actual scene together in Heat, but that movie was so good, people didn't care. Now with Righteous Kill, you finally have them acting opposite each other for the entire running time, and guess what? People won't care about that shit either. But it sure won't be because they liked the movie. This movie is crap and so is my review, so I'm just going to end it by calling myself a douchebag.
Hey me, you're a douchebag.
P.S. Pacino doesn't even yell in this flick. That's some bullshit right there.
3 days ago