The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )
Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )
Studio and Year: Overture/Anchor Bay - 2008
MPAA Rating: R
Feature running time: 103 Minutes
Genre: Crime drama/Thriller
Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC (MPEG-4)
Video Aspect: 2.40:1
Audio Format(s): English Dolby TrueHD 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish
Starring: Robert De Niro Al Pacino, Curtis Jackson, Carla Gugino, Donnie Wahlberg, John LeGuizamo, Brian Dennehy
Directed by: Jon Avnet
Music by: Edward Shearmur
Written by: Russell Gewirtz
Region Code: A
Blu-ray Disc release Date: January 6, 2009
"Most people respect the badge. Everyone respects the gun"
After 30 years as partners in the pressure cooker environment of the NYPD, highly decorated Detectives "Turk", played by Academy Award® winner Robert De Niro (Raging Bull) and "Rooster", played by Academy Award® winner Al Pacino (Scent of a Woman) should be ready for retirement. But, before they can hang up their badges, they are called in to investigate the murder of a notorious pimp, which appears to have ties to a case they solved years before.
This adrenaline fueled psychological thriller features hip-hop superstar Curtis Jackson (Get Rich or Die Tryin'), Carla Gugino (Sin City), John Leguizamo (Moulin Rouge!), Donnie Wahlberg (Saw II and III) and Brian Dennehy (Death of a Salesman ) and was directed by Jon Avnet (Red Corner) and written by Russell Gewirtz (Inside Man).
Righteous kill is a serial killer/cop drama that stars two of the most revered actors of our generation. Robert DeNiro and Al Pacino last worked together in 1995's HEAT and in that film they only had one scene together. Fans will be pleased to hear that in this film they spend the majority of their time onscreen together. While their chemistry and acting chops are never in question the strength of the script in this film is. The story revolves around two 30 year veterans of the NYPD who are partners and dedicated to one another. The story is told in a narrated flashback of sorts by Turk (DeNiro) and begins with the story of the murder and rape of a ten year old girl 4 years earlier. The perpetrator was arrested but was later acquitted by a jury. Turk and Rooster (Pacino) took matters into their own hands and planted evidence that send him to prison. What follows is a series of killings where all of the victims are criminals or criminal elements who have gotten around the system one way or another. The killer leaves a calling card in the form of a poem that is particular to each and the murder weapon (handgun). Turk and Rooster are assigned to investigate the case along with two other detectives, Riley and Perez (Wahlberg and Leguizamo). As the case unfolds it becomes more and more apparent that the killer is more than likely a cop. As suspicion grows and circumstantial evidence points to Turk, tension mounts that could derail the careers of both men.
I thought that this was an average crime drama that didn't hold any real secrets. It tried to build suspense but for me it never amounted to much. The outcome was rather obvious to me and the payoff didn't offer any satisfactory reasoning and felt contrived. What made the film entertaining was seeing the interaction between DeNiro and Pacino. They are such fine actors and while I tend to favor DeNiro over Pacino I respect him immensely as an actor. The supporting cast was well placed and featured fine character actors in Brian Dennehy, John Leguizamo, Donnie Wahlberg and the very attractive Carla Gugino. In the end I think that this film is worth checking out based solely upon the presence of these two iconic actors. We may never again have the opportunity to see them together onscreen. The story itself is average and felt a little longer than it needed to be but it kept my interest.
The rating is for violence, pervasive language, some sexuality and brief drug use.
AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100 / EXCELLENT = 83-91 / GOOD = 74-82 / AVERAGE = 65-73 / BELOW AVERAGE = under 65
**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Low frequency extension:
- Surround Sound presentation:
- Dialogue Reproduction:
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Black level/Shadow detail:
- Color reproduction:
Righteous Kill comes to Blu-ray Disc from Overture/Anchor Bay Entertainment featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 32 mbps and lossless Dolby TrueHD 5.1 channel sound that has an average bitrate of 3 mbps.
This was great looking high definition presentation that featured crisp high definition detail and three dimensional imagery. Close up camera shots of the cast looked exquisite as the fine minutia and subtle lines of their faces were clearly discernible. The weave and texture of clothing and the intricate structure of objects onscreen were rendered cleanly and looked like you could reach out and touch them. There were a handful of instances where sharpness wavered but they were brief and could have been innate to the photography. This seemed more prevalent during wide angle shots but I noticed it in a close up of Al Pacino later in the film during chapter 18 as well. Colors were natural in appearance without over saturated or blooming primaries. Complexions were beautifully rendered with excellent tonal description and delineation. Blacks were deep and dynamic with gradational shadow detail and multi-dimensional depth of field. I thought this film looked excellent in high definition.
The lossless sound offered energetic dynamics, succulent dialogue reproduction, and palpable low frequency detail. The opening segment is shot in an indoor shooting range and has DeNiro and Pacino firing at targets using 9mm pistols. This sequence utilized the entire system platform and featured pulsating, rhythmic bass that energized the room. The acoustic sounds of the primer blasts from their weapons reverberated throughout the listening area with dynamic impact and resonating clarity. Directional cues such as the motorized target hangers being reeled in passed from the rear to the front of the room with precise imaging that seamlessly matched what was occurring onscreen. While this segment sounded quite good I noticed later in the film that sounds mixed to the rear channels were on the hot side. This made panning effects feel less cohesive and drew attention away from the events onscreen as the effects were louder than they needed to be. This wasn't a big issue as the mix wasn't an active one from a discrete surround sound standpoint however I wanted to mention it. Ambient surround detail was better integrated and created a noticeably enveloping atmosphere that blended the front and rear soundstages quite well. Dialogue was rich in tonal depth, fair in room penetration, and transparent in detail which allowed even subtle shifts in pitch to be appreciable.
- (HD) The Investigation: An in depth look at Righteous Kill - 14 minute making feature
- (HD) The thin blue line: An exploration of cops & criminals - 19 minute documentary on the challenges facing police officers.
- (HD) Theatrical Trailer
- (HD BD Previews - Henry Poole is here, Sleepwalking, The Visitor, Traitor
- BD-Live Access
- Digital Copy Bonus Disc - Includes a standard definition version of the film that can be downloaded from a compatible PC to a portable playback device
Final Thoughts:Righteous Kill is an average crime thriller that is made better by the presence of two screen legends in Robert DiNero and Al Pacino. Its script isn't paced very well and the story is both predictable and unfulfilling. It did hold my interest however I think that had more to do with the enjoyment of watching the interaction between its co-stars than getting engrossed in the plot. On a high note its presentation on Blu-ray Disc is solid as it looks and sounds great. The bonus content like the film is just average but there are cast interviews and a mildly interesting police documentary. I think that for DeNiro/Pacino fans this film is probably worthy of adding to your collection. For everyone else I would recommend a rental.
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