Killing the righteous and wasting sublime talent

2008-10-19 00:00

A dream comes true. Al Pacino and Robert de Niro in a film together. Images of The Godfather: Part II, and the Michael Mann-directed Heat, race through my mind — works of genius.

This film has to be good, I’m sure of it. Why these actors have become silver-screen legends has a lot to do with their extensive use of a technique known as secondary acting — their reliance on non-verbal cues to enhance a message. Two of Hollywood’s finest. I continue concocting my formula for the masterpiece that awaits me …

The script has been put together by Russell Gewirtz, who penned Inside Man before this, and sees our veteran legends as NYPD detectives; partners on the trail of a (rather artistic) serial killer — the guy leaves sonnets behind validating each killing. What’s more, each murder is genuinely motivated — he rids the world of cons that have escaped through cracks in the justice system.

Vigilante justice. Engaging. Film-of-the-year here I come … And then it dawns on me, caught up in the euphoria of anticipation I have overlooked one crucial detail.

I rush back to my computer and do a Google-search: “Righteous Kill … Directed by”.

Up pops a certain Jon Avnet. He directed Pacino in the appalling 88 Minutes barely a year back. I knew then that he should never work again. I click his name; maybe I’ve judged him too harshly, maybe I’m wrong about him.

Jon Avnet trivia consumes the screen … “Jon has been in the business some three decades now and has brought to our screens magical family classics such as George of the Jungle and The Mighty Ducks”. Three decades and that’s the best he’s got to offer, my initial impression of him is solidified. What’s this guy doing working with Pacino and De Niro, I think to myself.

Anticipation subsides. I still cling to an element of my fading hope, believing either of these actors, on their day, could save the film. This despite knowing better — despite knowing that constructing a film is wholly a team effort, any weak link often spells calamity.

I decide not to over-think it and rush off to the cinema instead. A few yawns later I’m out.

Righteous Kill is awful. It plays out like an irritatingly stretched-out episode of NYPD Blue and doesn’t engage the viewer in any way, shape or form.

The many awkward moral dilemmas that the script poses aren’t explored. Shot composition is bland. The opening sequence is a bore.

What a waste of sublime talent. Well done Jon Avnet, I think to myself as I head home.

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