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Righteous Kill

Are De Niro and Pacino the new Matthau and Lemmon?

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Something's not right when a movie stars the esteemed thespians Robert De Niro and Al Pacino, and the only person who comes out of it with dignity is John Leguizamo. If I wanted to pretend I was an idiot, I'd say that Righteous Kill asks provocative questions about when police brutality is justified. Stock the DVD in the Moral Issues For Morons section. Jon Avnet's direction is about on par with your average Law & Order episode, though it's overloaded with gimmicky editing "technique" and storytelling contrivances.The screenplay functions on almost no level at all. Since Righteous Kill isn't dependent on action scenes, the investigative story and the actor interplay should keep things moving. Except De Niro and Pacino walk through the film like crime movie royalty, as though this were their very own Grumpy Old Men. De Niro is NYC detective Turk, who has killed 14 people in his years on the job. His willingness to enact justice on his own terms (rest assured, the movie thinks this is cool), once led him to plant evidence to get a child murderer convicted---an act known only to his partner Rooster (Pacino). But now, Turk is suspected of being a serial killer. Whether he is or isn't, the movie still relishes in his beating of a shackled criminal (Curtis Jackson). And what am I supposed to make of the scene where Rooster graphically describes this racist assault to a female colleague (Carla Gugino) and she gets off on it? "You're a baaad girl," Rooster responds. This is what they call lightheartedness in hell.

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