Righteous Kill

By Mark Ramsey | 2008/09/16


That was an expression back in the Welcome Back, Kotter era, which is exactly when we used to go see movies starring Robert De Niro and Al Pacino. Ah, Bobby and Al, they’re the Tracy and Hepburn of the time before our time.

Set your crime machine to 1979! “You talkin’ to me?! And without your teeth in?!”

Shock of shocks – they are cops! What kind of imaginative, out-of-the-box, against-type casting is this?! And – hold on to your seat – they’re New York City cops! Holy “Michael Keaton as Batman“! De Niro will take you down to Chinatown as long as you don’t mind riding shotgun in a mobility scooter.


It’s De Niro and Pacino as “Turk and Rooster,” a.k.a. “Tango and Cash” without much tango and even less cash. Coincidentally, both “Turk” and “Rooster” bring to mind turkeys, as does the flap of extra skin under the jowl which cracks like a whip when these guys turn their heads.

“If any perp gets behind the wheel, he’s in for a high speed shuffle,” warned Pacino, his excess chin wagging in the wind.

These boys have been playing cops so long their badges are carved out of stone. They’re part of the elite Codger Squad of the NYPD, helmed by Brian Dennehy, who, at age 70, has risen to the exalted rank of Lieutenant. “I’ve been earning stripes since they were made of bear skin,” said Dennehy.

The budget for this flick was $60 million, which is a lot considering it has been made five times a week for thirty years on TV for under a million. “Don’t worry, we’ll be profitable,” said director John Avnet, “I’m buying 2o million DVD’s myself.”

Look out Bobby and Al, you are co-starring with a member in good standing of New Kids on the Block, Mr. Donnie Wahlberg. Please tell me there’s some kind of crime involved in being a boy band of 40-year-olds!

And then there’s the scene I will have nightmares about forever: Robert De Niro is having sex with Carla Gugino.

I know.


The mental picture makes the real one extraneous, doesn’t it? It’s like witnessing a traffic accident where an Edsel keeps slamming into a shiny red Corvette. Honestly, I would sooner believe that Will Smith is the last man on an Earth of zombies than I’d believe De Niro could successfully woo Gugino for more than a friendly wave and a Hollywood kiss.

“When De Niro was in his prime my boyfriend was Ken – and his girlfriend Barbie,” said Gugino.

At this, Al Pacino rolled his eyes, “I’ve gone from Dog Day Afternoon to Dog Day After-a-Nap.” Al’s intense glare is looking less menacing and more like a scowl from Granny of The Beverly Hillbillies.

My favorite part of Righteous Kill had to be when our heroes visit the hospital to question a suspect who’s in severe physical distress. “His jaw is wired shut, but go ahead,” the doctor tells them.

“His jaw is wired shut, but go ahead”?!

Was that the Socratic oath or the Sock-puppet oath you took, doctor?

Righteous it ain’t.

Kill you it might.


2 Responses to “Righteous Kill”

  1. Thank you for the rant, Mark. This film was so infuriating for many of the reasons you addressed.

    After the Gugino-De Niro sex scene my boyfriend dryly remarked, “Why’d she have sex with Grandpa?” My default would be “roofies” – but that still wouldn’t help explain the actions of the rest of the characters.


    Mark Ramsey Reply:

    Yeah, that’s called “taking one for the team” where the team is your agent, your manager, and maybe still your stage mom.


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