What propels is crime thriller is the anticipation of seeing two of our finest actors –Robert De Niro and Al Pacino–paired as co-stars for the first time. If you remember, they appeared in separate storylines in “The Godfather, Part II” and were on-screen together in only two scenes in “Heat.”
Here, they’re veteran NYPD detectives, partners for 30 years and growing increasingly cynical about the injustices of the so-called judicial system – which is why they plant evidence to frame a child killer for a crime he didn’t commit. That then becomes connected with a string of 14 vigilante murders targeting those who slipped through the judicial system, including a pedophile priest. And many of the “revenge” crimes revolve around Club 404 in Harlem, run by Spider (Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson), a drug kingpin /rapper who sells product to a corporate lawyer who turns “stoolie” with disastrous results.
When scowling Turk (De Niro) isn’t coaching young girls in PAL baseball, he’s having a torrid affair with a rough-sex-loving Detective Karen Corelli (Carla Gugino), while Rooster (Pacino) chews gum in his shadow, muttering, “You’re my partner; you’re my role model.” They’re trailed around by a younger pair of detectives (John Leguizamo, Donnie Wahlberg). Hovering in the background is the chief (Brian Dennehy).
Written by Russell Gewirtz, directed by Jon Avnet and photographed by Dennis Lenoir, this cliche-filled churner adds up to little more than a slow-paced episode of “Law & Order” with the real culprit “twist” telegraphed so far in advance that there’s little suspense. On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Righteous Kil” is a forgettable 5. Reportedly, the state of Connecticut contributed a 40% production subsidy (including the stars’ salaries) because much of it was shot in Bridgeport.