DeNiro and Pacino in a movie together is pretty much a slamdunk.
This release feels like it is missing something.Righteous Kill tells the tale of 2 cops working in the big city of New York. This story could be any police officer's story. It is about good men trying to do a dirty job and surviving all that that entails. Robert DeNiro stars as Detective Turk and Al Pacino stars as Detective Rooster. These are two gritty officers who know all the ins and outs of the dirty business that they're in. When a well known pimp turns up dead, Rooster and Turk soon find themselves trying to figure out who committed this crime. This also drag up an older case from years ago and suddenly we find that people's lives in New York aren't as disparately connected as maybe we, and Rooster and Turk, always thought. Throw in the fact that police officers might be involved in the murder and things get very confusing for everyone trying to put the pieces together.
While Righteous Kill ainly isn't the cinematic achievement that fans might have hoped to have gotten from Pacino and DeNiro, there was something quite comforting about this movie. It isn't Heat, okay? So you can stop comparing the two films. Jon Avnet isn't Michael Mann nor is he trying to be. This movie is simply a character study, wrapped up as a thriller, and presented as a cinematic tour de force of the highest order. Interestingly, it isn't any of those things exactly but it is still interesting.
Director Jon Avnet sits back and tells us about the making of this movie. He discusses how he put the film together, how Pacino and DeNiro were cast, and what it was like to make this movie with that cast in the city that is famous for these stories. What I found really interesting is that Avnet functioned as the producer on this project. So in many respects this movie was mainly his vision. While I can't say if that helped or hindered this film, it did make it more interesting because his hands were so prevalent on it.
Anamorphic Widescreen Presentation - 2.35:1. Righteous Kill looked pretty solid. I haven't had the chance to see how the Blu-ray version of this movie looked, but on the whole things looked quite nice here. There was a very harsh quality to this film that was represented in the way the city was shot. Director of Photography Denis Lenoir really seemed to be going for the look that was quite prevalent in the films of Sidney Lumet and Francis Ford Coppola. On average, things seemed quite nice on this DVD transfers.
Dolby Surround 5.1. English and Spanish Subtitles. This movie sounded good. I, for some reason, expected the audio to have a bit more of an arty feel and it just never really felt that way. Things were solid, to be sure, but they didn't sound as in the character's heads as I was hoping that they would. Editor Paul Hirsch has done a very solid job melding the images and sounds, but that is really all that it is, solid but not spectacular.
The black and white Reservoir Dogs rip off image that was on all the theatrical posters is what graces the front of this DVD cover. The back features some images from this film with the skyline of New York behind it. There is a brief description of what Righteous Kill is about, a Special Features listing, a cast list and technical specs.
While people might say that I am a sucker for Pacino and DeNiro, I really enjoyed this film. It certainly wasn't the best movie that I watched in 2008, but it surely wasn't the worst. Yes, I would like for the story to have been better, and at times I felt that our screen legends were merely mugging for the camera. On that same note I know that these actors really take their work seriously, so it isn't like I can 100% dismiss what this movie had to offer. I think when we hear that stars of this caliber are getting together we expect their movie to be greeted with more fanfare. Something tells me that the money people behind this movie we're able to raise the funds because of who was in the film. Yet, when it came time to market it that could have been left to a company with more experience and marketing chutzpah.
Righteous Kill has shades of the films of Sidney Lumet and that alone should make it worth screening. Owning this DVD is another story...