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Category:    Home > Reviews > Mystery > Crime > Thriller > Righteous Kill (2008/Anchor Bay Blu-ray + DVD-Video)

Righteous Kill (2008/Anchor Bay Blu-ray + DVD-Video)


Picture: B/C+     Sound: B/B-     Extras: B-     Film: B-



Some reunions are worth looking forward too and in an age of so many such projects that are merely package deals and cash-ins, Join Avnet’s Righteous Kill (2008) may not be the best police thriller in a sea of so many of them of late, but it is one of the more interesting and is substantial enough of a project to make the reteaming of Al Pacino and Robert DeNiro as longtime friends and New York cops pay off.  Of course, their chemistry, talent and extra efforts help the screenplay’s weak points, but that what real stars with real talent are capable of pulling off and we are seeing less and less of them.


The story involves a series of murders that are being committed by a cop, killing others who “deserve it” and seem to be getting away with everything including murder, staying free beyond the reach of the law in its normal operations.  There is rough sex to go with the rough violence (not necessarily together) and the screenplay by Russell Gewirtz may not be as uniformly consistent as what he wrote for Spike Lee’s Inside Man (2006, reviewed elsewhere on this site) but is still better than most such writing of late.  He admits that he came up with his big twist and wrote backwards, which explains the troubles here and is a bad idea, especially since The Sixth Sense; a film that has ruined such filmmaking in drama and (not applicable here) supernatural Horror.


Also keeping the film from being another formulaic genre piece is its decent cast who work in their roles better than we have seen most do so of late and with more believability and chemistry than usual, including Carla Gugino, John Leguizamo, Donnie Wahlberg, Brian Dennehy, Barry Primus, Melissa Leo, Trilby Glover, Alan Blumenfeld, Terry Serpico, Alan Rosenberg, Shirly Brener, Frank John Hughes and Curtis Jackson.  I have a feeling we’ll be seeing more of some of the lesser-known actors after this.


The 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image was shot in Super 35mm film for the most part, has a mix of denatured images, analog video footage and other filmed shots that make it uneven in quality, but the transfer is very faithful to the 35mm print I screened and the (no surprise) daylight shots are the highlight of the playback.  Denis Lenoir had just lensed 88 Minutes (reviewed elsewhere on this site) for Avnet and tries to deliver a somewhat different look in cooperation with Editor Paul Hirsch (Carrie, Star Wars (1977), Blow Out, Falling Down) in his best work since the first Mission: Impossible feature 12 years ago.  It is often smart, has some impact and helps the film stay on track.  Just expect some inconsistent quality.


The Dolby TrueHD 5.1 mix is dialogue-based, but is well-recorded and also edited with some character to it.  Ed Shearmur scored this film (as he did for 88 Minutes) and does not repeat himself, actually enhancing the narrative to his credit.  The Dolby Digital 5.1 mix on the DVD is not bad, but not as warm, clean or clear.


Extras on both versions include the original theatrical trailer, trailers for other Anchor Bay/Overture releases, feature-length audio commentary by Avnet and two featurettes: An In-Depth Look At Righteous Kill and The Thin Blue Line: An Exploration Of Cops & Criminals.  The Blu-ray adds a Digital Copy disc so you can download a copy of the film for PC and PC portable devices.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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