Whatever you do, don't throw Michael Mann's Heat (or God forbid, The Godfather II) into the DVD player prior to venturing off to your local theater to see Righteous Kill. Part of you might want to watch the film that last featured Robert De Niro and Al Pacino opposite one another to get you in the mood, but you'll surely be disappointed when the popcorn's run out and what you're watching on the big screen doesn't even belong in the same conversation as the film you just watched at home. That's because Righteous Kill is a predictable pile of pass me the paycheck, with both De Niro and Pacino phoning in a combination of past performances -- of men with tough, no-nonsense New York City exteriors and sly, slickly-delivered one-liners. This isn't the De Niro and Pacino of old ... it is, unfortunately, the older De Niro and Pacino.
Since Righteous Kill was written by Russell Gewirtz, there are definitely similarities between this and his last script, Inside Man -- both films are about men who do bad things for the good of the people. Righteous Kill opens with a voice-over from Detective Turk (De Niro) against some grainy, black-and-white video. Turk tells us he's killed 14 people during his years as an NYPD cop ("most people respect the badge ... everyone respects the gun"), but they were all lowlife thugs who deserved it. After some quick-yet-stylish (and somewhat annoying) cuts back and forth through time, we finally arrive at a pretty standard whodunnit with both Turk and his partner Rooster (Pacino) hot on the tail of a serial killer who leaves the equivalent of third-grade poetry with each of his victims. Roses are red, violets are blue ... I guessed all of Act III and so will you.