Goddamn it. This is the last time I fall for Pacino and De Niro's bullshit. I mean it. Fuck those guys.
Regarding Pacino: I have to think back to 2002's Insomnia to come up with a movie that (A) anyone remembers, and (B) Pacino might have given two shits about when he accepted the gig. But he's doing better than De Niro, I guess, who I'm pretty sure has just been having a laugh at Hollywood's expense for the past decade: Analyze This, The Adventures of Rocky & Bullwinkle, Meet the Parents, Analyze That, Shark Tale, Meet the Fockers. Sign those paychecks, assholes! Laugh all the way to the bank! Who needs to remember Taxi Driver or Serpico or Dog Day Afternoon or Scarface or The Godfather or Raging Bull or Brazil or Glengarry Glen Ross or The Insider or Goodfellas or Casino or Heat?
Ah, yes, Heat. Michael Mann's 1995 crime epic is one of the finest action films ever made, and seeing how it was the last time that Al Pacino and Robert De Niro shared the screen, Heat hangs like a pissed-off ghost over the entirety of their latest team-up flick, Righteous Kill, the dimwitted plot of which feels like it was Xeroxed from a pulpy supermarket paperback.
The basic deal: Rooster (Pacino) and Turk (De Niro) are two rough-and-tumble NYPD cops, who, despite being septuagenarians, kick ass and take names and, at least in Turk's case, bang super-hot women 30 years their juniors. (As the token female in Righteous Kill, Carla Gugino plays the semi-interesting object of Turk's affections—or, anyway, that's what she tries to do, before lazy plot mechanics relegate her role to that of the standard female victim.)
But despite the fact that we're told over and over what great cops these two guys are it still seems like every crook they try to arrest somehow gets back on the street. But then Rooster and Turk's most wanted start showing up dead—someone's killing their crooks, and to add insult to injury, the murderer's calling card is some god-awful poetry that he leaves by each corpse.
["SPOILER" ALERT!-Eds.] Throughout Righteous Kill, director Jon Avnet and writer Russell Gewirtz—as if they're speaking verrrrry slowly to someone who doesn't understand English—make it excruciatingly, ridiculously obvious who this killer is, spelling it out time and time again: It's the sinister, glowering, fed-up-with-the-uselessness-of-it-all Turk. (One gathers the more laidback Rooster's okay with it, though, since at one point—in what I like to call the "let's explain our movie's title" scene—Rooster says there's something "righteous" about Turk taking the law into his own hands.) In other words, there's zero tension throughout the film—which, bewilderingly, is still structured as a mystery-driven police procedural. Throw in some easy exploitation of women, 50 Cent (who daringly plays against type as a hiphop producer/drug dealer), some cheap, last-minute plot twisting that invalidates everything that's come before it, and bingo: Righteous Kill, a movie that would've gone direct to DVD if it hadn't been for those two all-important, formerly meaningful names above the film's title.