For director Jon Avnet, it must have been a surprise to have the opportunity to direct Al Pacino in back-to-back films. Unfortunately, it’s doubtful either one of them will end up being memorable. After 88 Minutes, Avnet teams with Pacino and Robert De Niro in what should be a surefire hit, Righteous Kill. Sadly, that’s not the case.
The scripting and direction are the problem here. This murder mystery gives copious amounts of screen time to its stars, their first time with this much opportunity to act together in the same scene. Everything focuses on Pacino and De Niro, effectively eliminating any one else from the equation.
Both play hardened, long time cops. They’ve been partners for years and know each other well. You’ll be reminded of this multiple times, as if the first few times weren’t enough. The attempts to throw the viewer off from the real culprit behind a growing murder spree only serves to do two things: make the solution more obvious and the eventual resolution hard to believe since the movie tries everything to pull the viewer the other way.
In fact, it makes the actual motivations for the wrong doer somewhat baffling. Some of his/her actions are confusing, and unnecessary. Secondary characters, including John Leguizamo and Carla Gugino, seem clueless. When they put the pieces together, it’s as if they’re still oblivious to who the perpetrator is. Then again, Gugino’s character isn’t used for much other than sex appeal, including a rather baffling shot of her having sex where the only thing the audience can see is her and bouncing breasts. It literally lasts a second or two and comes out of nowhere before being edited into the next shot with little purpose.
Even with all of the outcomes being blatantly obvious, the movie still feels it needs to flashback to prior scenes during the final sequence to help the audiences catch all of the little “twists” they may have missed. It’s an unnecessary cap, not to mention it takes away from the tension, drama, and emotion of the final moments.
With the flaws in the scripting, at least Pacino and De Niro do put forth their best efforts. They have some fun, add in some comedy, and play things straight when need be. They have a natural chemistry on-screen, even if they seem too old to be playing active duty cops.
Regardless of how great they are, this is a not a movie worth your time. With all of the crime drama on TV, it takes something unique to stand out. Sadly, that “something” isn’t two of Hollywood’s greatest finally sharing starring roles.