The name is Buftar. I have a blog thing buftar.blogspot.com, if you don't mind posting it. I was invited this past Thursday to an advance screening of Righteous Kill at the Garden State Plaza Theater is sunny Paramus, NJ. Since I heard about this movie (I think it was sometime April or May), I have been extremely interested in seeing it. The thought of Al Pacino and Robert DeNiro as NYPD detectives chasing down a serial killer spelled nothing but E-F-F-I-N-G F-A-N-T-A-S-T-I-C to me. And forgive me for completely exaggerating the interest I had, but since I saw their one and only encounter in Heat so many years ago, it left me wanting something a whole lot more. At around 7:30, we were given the usual spiel: the movie is not finished yet, the visual effects are not finalized, the soundtrack is a temporary version. The movie opens with DeNiro in a hooded sweatshirt speaking into a camera saying that he has killed fourteen some-odd people. Someone sitting behind a desk says hold on, rewinds the tape, then lets the same line go by. As though we have learned something new about the same innocuous thing being said. Anyway, after some nonsense racial remarks and a brief diatribe on what the point of his righteous kills was (GET IT?!?), credits roll. A sonic boom of rap music, Pacino and DeNiro shooting up a target range, and some of the most annoying credits I have ever seen. It gave me a headache and ruined my mood to see a good movie. Fortunately - or unfortunately, as it turns out - there was no good movie to be seen, anyway. The main plot of the film took its time to come around, as the story followed the two should-be-retired, gold-badge-having partners as they try to nab a drug dealer played by Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson, a subsequent shootout, the beating of Mr. Cent in handcuffs by Mr. DeNiro, and the fallout from an internal affairs investigation. What does this have to do with the actual plot of the film? Nothing. I wish I had been in the post-survey Q&A, because me thinks I found a way to cut a good twenty to twenty-five minutes of driftwood. I'm sure they were talking the opportunity to point out how close DePac are as partners and all, and how the De in DePac is a hothead and how the Pac is some fast and loose mastermind of sorts. But the way they decide to present it in a sort of long and drawn out way makes me immediately wonder if it is appropriate to ask for my money back from a free screening. When they finally get to the scene of the first crime (a pimp named Rambo is shot, a card with a silly poem is left beside Rambo and the gun that killed him), there are so many jump cuts, smash cuts, voice overs, and do-overs, the headache would have become a full-blown aneurysm if I didn't attempt to give the meat of the movie a chance. I should mention that the victims are all bad people that fall through the cracks of the legal system in one way or another, so Pacino insists early on that it must be a cop (a great scene where no one in the room says it, but he flashes his badge to indicate what they're all already thinking). Did I mention that DeNiro is apparently confessing to everything in detail during these video voice-overs? And they jump-cut, smash-cut, and whatever else they can do to keep the audience caring...DeNiro is on-screen, telling us what he "did" and making it painfully obvious that either a) the director got bored with himself during production and decided to sell out the entire reveal early on; or b) the director decided to bore the audience by making it painfully obvious that DeNiro is being forced to offer up this info and is therefore ruled out as the killer FIFTEEN FREAKING MINUTES INTO THE MOVIE. This kind of cramps the style of the rest of the flick as everyone in it tries to pin the murders on him THE ENTIRE FREAKING TIME. I will say the acting is fine. Usually, when you hear DeNiro or Pacino mentioned in a new movie these days, you worry about the wireless service they will be using to phone in their respective performances. But here, they do a fairly good job of trudging the dump of a story along. The dialogue is at time fantastic. The one shining moment in all of the Mr. Cent business is a quick quip by DePac about how the cartoon Underdog inspired an entire generation of drug addicts to pop pills. Very funny, very obvious these guys get along real well. And the one main exchange between them and their chief Brian Dennehy reminded me of Lethal Weapon 4 in a good way. Carla Gugino makes due as a forensic detective and sexual interest of DeNiro. I say sexual and not romantic because she's a bit of a freak in the movie. And while I find her character interesting to a point that goes way beyond her being delicious eye-candy, the script gives her the depth of a birdbath to work with. She wants it harder, she wants her hair pulled, she wants to hear about DeNiro beating Mr. Cent up, cue the oversized novelty paycheck. John Leguizamo turns in a very refreshing performance playing Officer John Leguizamo. Oh, and Donnie Wahlberg's in it too. They play two junior detectives working with the very senior detectives who initially suspect DeNiro is the guy. They ascertain this by enlisting the help of the dime-store psychiatrist helping DePac cope with their Righteous Kill from earlier (GET IT?!?). By the time the shitty twist plops on the screen, I imagined a visual effect of a big rubber stamp punching the words "WHO CARES?" on the screen in deep red ink, once they finish the effects. I wrote in my survey that "even if I didn't see this ending coming - which I did, very early on - I would still think it was the most contrived and lazy thing you could have done with the story." There was some leeway where I could see them changing the ending and making me happy. But is it even worth it? They should recut the whole thing as a buddy-cop comedy along the lines of the aforementioned Weapon that is Lethal. The audience laughed enough throughout the flick to suggest that something like that was doable. I'm guessing that if you like In the Cut, rap music, and don't mind that Al Pacino does not scream his head off, you'll probably like this movie. I'm hoping that since we saw what was a step above an assembly cut at best, they will trim out the terrible jumps, the awkwardly placed and poorly paced v.o.s, and pick a genre and stick with it (is this a police procedural? is this a character study of the thin blue line? is this a culture-clash American Gangster-type deal? is this a sequel to the movie Showtime?) I'm recommending you watch this only if it is on a premium movie channel a year or so from now and you have nothing at all better to do. I'm sensing that I have been a little harsh, but I was expecting a different (at the very least, good) movie. Your Righteous Shill (Get It?!?), Buftar
I just came back from a test screening of the Robert Deniro / Al Pacio / 50 Cent - psychological thriller "Rightous Kill". We were told we are the first group of people to see the film. I wasnt sure what to think before the movie, only thing I knew about the director was the he did "Up close and Personal" and the "88 minutes" movie with Al Pacino. The screening was in Paramus, NJ. Here is a link to the pass... http://www.movietickets.com/pdf/righteouskill.pdf My initial thoughts are this...there are parts I like, there are some character I don't like, and I feel with some more polishing / editing they can really make this film work. Some basic story line is this.. Al Pacino (Turk) and Robert DeNiro (Rooster) have been parters for like 30 years. It seems that while they are good partners, their personalities are like night and day. (there is a very cool slipscreen "on the couch with the psychiatrist scenes) that shows this really well.. Anyway, without getting into too many spoilers.. Carla Gugino plays a CSU forensics cop named Karen who like rough sex (seriously) and is banging De Niro. She is probably the least developed/likable character in the whole movie. Brian Dennehy plays Turks & Roosters boss and is on screen for about 5 minutes. (about 3 minutes shorter then our boy "50 Cent"). 50 Plays a gangster named Spider who runs Club 404 out of a old bank.. this is were he launders his drug money.. there is a sub plot that involved a corp lawyer named Jessica, De Niro and Spider where they try to set Spider up on a drug sale. Donnie Wahlberg and John Leguizamo play two detectives that are helping Turk and Rooster on a case that involves a serial killer who kills drug dealers, pimps, and what not (think Boondock Saints) and then leaves a poem. Donnie & John where by far my favorite characters in the movie, probably because they played them very well. The main plot device is this.. a drug dealing pimp get popped twice in the head, and someone leaves a note. It turns out that this happens like 5 more times - it is later discovered to have happened in the past but Turk and Rooster put the bad guy in jail (another subplot that involves a frame up of sorts) I dont want to get too much into the plot, cause I'm not really sure what could be considered a spoiler, and what isnt.. but I can tell you what I felt worked and what didnt. What worked: - Al Pacino and De Niro were good together. Their characters are so different yet they worked very well - Donnie and John Leguizamo were kick ass. - Al Pacino, Donnie Walhberg and John Leguizamo have a very cool scene talking over a table (think HEAT) - Al Pacino and Brian Debbehy have a similar scene.. it worked very well. - The movie was unlike an other cop flick or a whodunit flick. I have to admit I was guessing til the end, and then I was still thinking "WTF just happened" - I think the ending worked well. - Loved the intro. Music was temporary, but it was great. (Pacino & Deniro shooting Mp5 & m16 and other big guns at a shooting range intercut with credits and some addition plot devices that I wont mention) What i didnt like: - Carla Gugino character seemed very 1 dimensional. She seemed like a waste. - Movie was a little slow at a few points.. nothing that can be fixed with a trim or there - Final scenes were confusing as hell, but thats because the audio was complete garbage.. - 50 Cent was on screen for about 5 minutes. (a he gets 3rd billing?) - 3 minutes at the beggining. 2 in the end. Overall, I enjoyed it. And they have my $9.50 when it comes out later this year so I can see just how much they changed. I got to stay for the focus group, and the guy running it was a complete jerk off, but that is beside the fact. The main question was did we like the ending. I think 20 people out of like 24 said they did. As for everyone other then the focus group, there was some clapping at the end, but nothing like "SUPER AWESOME".. the guy sitting next to my friend fell asleep, so I guess not everyone enjoyed. Oh, and the guy running the focus group said the director was there somewhere in the bad.. but I had no idea what Jon Avnet looked like so I couldn't confirm.. If you decide to use this, call me Gruby.