Righteous Kill

Critics Consensus

Al Pacino and Robert De Niro do their best to elevate this dowdy genre exercise, but even these two greats can't resuscitate the film's hackneyed script.



Total Count: 146


Audience Score

User Ratings: 90,404
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Movie Info

After 30 years as partners in the pressure cooker environment of the NYPD, highly decorated detectives David Fisk and Thomas Cowan should be ready for retirement, but aren't. 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. Like the original murder, the victim is a suspected criminal whose body is found accompanied by a four line poem justifying the killing. When additional crimes take place, it becomes clear the detectives are looking for a serial killer, one who targets criminals that have fallen through the cracks of the judicial system. His mission is to do what the cops can't do on their own-take the culprits off the streets for good. The similarities between the recent killings and their earlier case raise a nagging question: Did they put the wrong man behind bars?


Al Pacino
as Rooster
Carla Gugino
as Karen Kleisner
50 Cent
as Spider
Brian Dennehy
as Lt. Hingus
Donnie Wahlberg
as Det. Riley
John Leguizamo
as Det. Perez
Oleg Taktarov
as Yevgeny Mugalat
Rob Dyrdek
as Robert Milton Bradley
Alan Blumenfeld
as Martin Baum
Melissa Leo
as Cheryl Brooks
Terry Serpico
as Jon Van Luytens
Saidah Aprika
as Gwen Darvis
Liza Colon-Zayas
as Judge Angel-Rodriguez
Malachy McCourt
as Father Connell
Ajay Naidu
as Doctor Chadrabar
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News & Interviews for Righteous Kill

Critic Reviews for Righteous Kill

All Critics (146) | Top Critics (36) | Fresh (27) | Rotten (119)

  • This thriller by Jon Avnet is mostly by the numbers, and its surprise ending, though effective, feels somewhat forced.

    Dec 9, 2008 | Full Review…
  • Nearly everything about this film is a cliché.

    Nov 5, 2008
  • Say it ain't so, Bobby and Al.

    Oct 18, 2008 | Rating: 1.5/4 | Full Review…
  • The movie, which has more than 10 credited producers, feels like one of those slick, for-the-money projects Hollywood studios cook up via graph charts and marketing surveys.

    Oct 18, 2008 | Rating: 2/4
  • There's nothing righteous to be found here.

    Oct 18, 2008 | Rating: 2/4 | Full Review…
  • They require a bigger stage, a sharper script and a more rigorous director. Without these, the long-awaited De Niro/Pacino show amounts to nothing so much as a novelty bout, a celebrity sparring session. Its sound and fury signifies very little.

    Sep 26, 2008 | Rating: 2/5 | Full Review…

    Xan Brooks

    Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Righteous Kill

  • Dec 30, 2011
    this is not heat. poor film with a poor story and poor direction
    Brendan N Super Reviewer
  • Sep 23, 2011
    Righteous Kill is an average police mystery/thriller, terribly disappointing considering the two acting giants who star in it. I always like Carla Guginio and John Lequizamo too, but they don't add much here. So, all these actors have done impressive work before, but director Jon Avnet doesn't get much done here. There is some intensity, but its all clichéd and formulaic. Really, is this the best everyone could do? I enjoyed watching Pacino and DeNiro (Rooster and Turk?) together, but RK doesn't compare to Heat, much less Godfather II. This is essentially a bigger budget episode of Law and Order.
    Clintus M Super Reviewer
  • Jul 21, 2011
    Man, killing this film would be righteous. No, it's not that bad, but lord knows that it's not that good. Why? Because it's the same ol', same ol' and the same ol', same ol' isn't even good enough to begin with. The film also suffers from a lack of development, dialogue that ranges from improvable to terrible, unbelievable character behavior, as well very choppy slow-motion, which is actually a big deal enough when it's not a bit too much. Still, the film remains mostly plagued by its being so generic with little refreshing elements. It's consistently cliched, but that's almost a complement, because that might be the only thing consistent about it, as the storyline - on top of being generic - is a bit thrown-together and rather inconsistent. Still, there's hardly anything in here to warrant hatred. It's just a passable film that has its strengths and its weaknesses, with neither growing too extreme over the other. We've discussed the weaknesses, so how about we get into these strengths I've been talking about? The film is supported by a generic, but decent score, fair sound, fine character chemistry, a progressive increase in pacing smoothness, as well as a twist so good final act, kicked-off by a solid twist and topped-off by a pretty decent ending. Of course, what mainly saves the film are the performances of the two leads. As cliched as the characters played by De Niro and Pacino are, they still retain compellingness. It's not hard to see what's coming, but De Niro and Pacino still keep the film having some type of compellingness, thanks to their solid performances and chemistry. Overall, "Righteous Kill" is a wildly cliched crime thriller, but is made passable by the solid lead performances, satisfying final act and general entertainment value that is never totally destroyed by the film's genericism.
    Cameron J Super Reviewer
  • Mar 17, 2011
    ok...a pair of seasoned cops, Turk (Robert De Niro) and Rooster (Al Pacino) are on the case when a serial killer with a vigillante streak starts bumping off bad guys in New York City.They team up with younger detectives Perez and Riley and assisted by crime scene specilist Karen Corelli they work to uncover the killers identity with little more to go on than a poem left as a calling card at the scene of each crime. has an obvious twist~!
    ♥Robyn Super Reviewer

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