Posted by: Dr P | April 11, 2008

Righteous Kill

There are moments in time you want to savour. Time stands still, the whole world seems right, and your every waking thought is engulfed in the magic of the second. For me, they could be knocking over someone’s middle stump, the sweet connection of bat on ball when you know for a fleeting minute you can cover drive like Michael Vaughan … or driving past a pet grooming shop in Prestwich and seeing that it is called “Doggy Style”. Sheer genius. The comedy value could only have been surpassed if they’d stuck a notice on the shop front saying “please enter round the back” or “we only accept deliveries via our rear entrance”. Despite that small oversight, the pair of us were convulsed anyway. I suspect one or two of you readers will also find this amusing. The rest will probably remove themselves from my review group 😉

Anyway, what better way to spend a cold autumn evening than at the movies taking in “Righteous Kill”, the latest in a long line of movies featuring the wonderful pairing of Al Pacino and Robert De Niro. Few cinema double acts can truly live in the memory – Bogart and Bacall, Fred and Ginger, Newman and Redford, any two of the four female leads in Bratz … but this duo must rank up there. They electrify the screen with their sheer presence.

Speaking of presence, the once-great George Michael, the writer of true pop classics such as Faith, Edge of Heaven, and Bad Boys, has found himself in plenty of trouble with the law. He’s been accosted in public toilets, fallen asleep at the wheel while under the influence, and spoken out publicly on his use of drugs. However I’m here to tell you of a transgression that might not have made the newspapers. He recently almost choked to death while eating a chocolate bar. I call it George Michael’s “Careless Wispa”. In related news, there’s been a big theft form the Viagra factory in Manchester. Police are on the lookout for some hardened criminals …

OK, back to the movie. Our double act are hard-bitten NYPD detectives Turk (De Niro) and Rooster (Pacino) who specialise in murder investigations. The latest case is a perplexing one. A killer is mowing down known criminals or those who are charged with heinous crimes but who escape jail. Intriguingly, he or she is also leaving poems at the scene of the crime, explaining why they have been bumped off! Ingenious! Kind of a “roses are red, violets are blue, you’ve committed double homicide … so I’m shooting you” exclamation point.

It doesn’t take long for our heroes to reach the conclusion that the murdered folk are all particularly well known to the police, and hence a vengeance killing spree by a cop is suspected. The movie throws out any number of potential suspects to this, from the two leads themselves, to their boss, ex-cops and even Turk’s current squeeze, a crime scene coroner with a penchant for kinky sex. (That made you sit up and pay attention didn’t it!)

Despite all this delicious premise, De Niro and Pacino coast through this movie – it’s almost like they’re playing themselves, so easily do they fill the roles of the two hard-bitten detectives. Their interplay is delightful and you really do get the impression they are completely bad-ass guys, but with a sense of fun too. De Niro in particular has starred in a number of comedy roles in recent years (Meet the Parents etc) and has a twinkle in his eye when the need for levity arises. It’s also particularly fun to see him involved in a steamy relationship with the coroner. The sultry Carla Gugino’s role is fantastic – sex, blood, gore, sex, going off the rails, etc – it’s just like season 6 of Buffy but with slightly less pop culture references!

Also on the case are another pair of detectives with whom our guys have a tempestuous working relationship which even spills out into their kids’ softball matches! The wonderful John Leguizamo and Mark Wahlberg’s slightly less appealing younger bro Donnie are also well cast in the movie – they pretty soon start suspecting Turk of committing the murders, and the ways they try and trap him are super to watch – and even more super when you realise he is one step ahead of them all the way. Equally effective is Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson as night club bad guy Spider. Even if the dollar has devalued recently, 50 Cent still goes a long way in this film. Bdum tsch (thanks, Kate).

There’s a fantastic side plot where our intrpid duo end up catching some fugitives by trapping them in a massive vat of yellow liquid. Yes, folks, the bad guys get remanded in custard.

Of course there’s absolutely no point revealing which of the various people mentioned in this review (or not) ends up being the killer. But the way it plays out is excellent, and the main duo maintain their acting chops throughout. Despite all that, the highlight was Big G telling me all about some South American initiative to provide goats with contraceptives to control the burgeoning population! You get it all with Gareth.

Go and see this film if you’re a fan of either (or both) of the main guys, cop films, or the odd bit of kinky sex. I suspect that captures most of my audience!

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