Al Pacino + Robert De Niro = ?
This film exists because somebody asked the above equation. What does happen when you put the world's greatest actors in the same film?
This has happened twice before of course.
Firstly, in the Godfather: Part II, although De Niro's scenes and Pacino's scenes were separated by about thirty years on account of De Niro playing a flashback version of Vito Corleone.
The second encounter of these two legends was more memorably in Michael Mann's Heat, where the two finally were allowed to share a scene. Admittedly, this was only five minutes long in a coffee shop but it was enough to get the hearts beating of even the most removed cinema-goer.
Well, that was in 1995. Thirteen years later and now we get a film where De Niro and Pacino practically share every frame. Surely, this is going to be the greatest movie ever?!
Unfortunately, no it isn't. But it was never going to be.
I read so many derogatory reviews of this film before seeing it (even my ever faithful Empire only gave it two stars) that I was pleasantly surprised because Righteous Kill is a very good film.
It is such a joy watching De Niro and Pacino acting as life-long pals onscreen. They are heroes of the old school, joking about The Brady Bunch and Underdog whilst making the young new bucks (played ably by Donnie Wahlberg and John Leguizamo) look like over-excited kids.
And De Niro and Pacino compliment each other, relying on their best catalogue of work. De Niro is the quick-to-anger Turk (see Goodfellas, Taxi Driver), whilst Pacino is the gum-chewing wise-cracking Rooster (Heat, The Devil's Advocate).
The criticisms of the film are fair in some cases. Empire commented that there is not one memorable shot in the whole film and that Jon Avnet is no Michael Mann (although the splitscreen therapy session is incredibly crowd-pleasing). But maybe Avnet is simply an actor's director. He certainly gets great performances from everyone he points a camera at - Carla Gugino's sexy CSI detective is particularly captivating.
Furthermore, many critics have said that the script borders on convention and is full of cliches. Maybe I haven't seen enough cop films but I think that's a tad unfair. The concept of a cop serial killer is interesting, the twist was impressive if predictable and the pace of the film never slows.
So ignore the reviews (except this one obviously) and go see this film.
No other film in history has these two great actors starring opposite each other to this extent and that alone is worth the admission. And let's be honest. Both men are getting old now. There won't be much opportunity for them to play cops anymore, so enjoy it while you can.
So if you ask me, Robert De Niro + Al Pacino = ruddy good viewing.