MRR Movie Review: Righteous Kill

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Movie Review: "Righteous Kill"

-- Rating: R
Length: 101 minutes
Release Date: September 25, 2008
Directed by: Jon Avnet
Genre: Crime, Drama, Mystery

"Righteous Kill" is a crime and mystery drama that tells the story of two NYPD detectives who need to defeat a serial killer who has been killing local criminals. There are also personal tensions between the two detectives, Turk (played by Robert De Niro) and Rooster (played by Al Pacino), so the movie isn't only about the killer and his motives.

The film opens with police psychologists who have been looking over the killer's past record calling him the "Poetry Boy" killer because his calling card is a short poem left with the bodies of his victims. The killer's victims were also criminals, making him a rather unique serial killer. However, the psychologists do not seem convinced that the man in front of them-the detective Turk-is the killer they are after.

The film really gets started in the past, as it shows the two detectives, Turk and Rooster, investigating the murder of a drug dealer-the tenth death in their area that could be linked to the killer they are after. The murder is linked to Poetry Boy when the detectives eventually find the poem left with the body. After that, the deaths attributed to Poetry Boy keep piling up.

After that, Perez and Riley, two detectives at the precinct, decide to investigate Turk and Rooster. They soon realize that they may be looking at a killer who is also working in the system.

Believing that Turk is the killer because of his psych evaluations and marksmanship skills, the two detectives set him up by manufacturing a meeting between him and a drug dealer. However, Turk proves his innocence without knowing that he has been set up.

After that, the story twists yet again and may become confusing to the audience. The mystery turns out to be much more complicated than it seems to be at the beginning of the movie. Audience members may have difficulty keeping track of what's going on at some points, especially since no one is who he says he is.

The movie is rated R, primarily for violence and language, so it's definitely for adults. Teens 18 and older may enjoy "Righteous Kill" as well, although it tends to lack action. The story is based heavily on narrative and has a plot that is more of a mental puzzle. At times, the drama is intense, and the story brings out many ways in which the two cops are tied together. For example, Turk is dating Rooster's ex-girlfriend, who is also a detective, an element that does not tie into the plot as well as it could.

Robert De Niro and Al Pacino are at the top of their craft in this film, but the plot and story don't show the actors' skills as well as they could. The pair sometimes hold the film together through slow scenes and long-winded moments that would otherwise make the movie too slow for most viewers.

This movie is similar to the "Dexter" series, but it has a grim reality that some audience members might find too dark for their tastes. The dark cinematic moments and sudden violent scenes are sometimes oddly placed, so the movie doesn't flow as well as it could. With its lack of action until the final scenes, "Righteous Kill" can drag. The end seems sudden and is unexpectedly violent, which makes little sense in its context. However, with its slowness and darkness, this film may be right up the alley of those who appreciate a thoughtful crime movie rather than more dramatic and exaggerated films such as the "Die Hard" franchise.

Overall, this movie is best for adults who want to think as they watch. The ability to concentrate is a must for its audiences, since the plot twists are sometimes subtle and there are few explanations. "Righteous Kill" requires audience members who are able to follow the story well enough to understand the full implications of the killer's plots, why he does what he does, and how he's managed to work in the police station for so long without being investigated himself. The movie won't have audience members on the edge of their seats, but it does have a moody feel that will leave people thinking about it long after the credits role.

Rated: 3 of 5 stars