Friday, September 12, 2008
Say It Ain’t So
A movie I won’t be seeing this weekend: Righteous Kill. I can’t bring myself to purchase a ticket for something with such a lame title, first of all. More so, I of course can’t stand to watch Al Pacino and especially Robert De Niro as they soil their legacies. I mean, really, what are these guys thinking? And, assuming they’re not, what are their agents thinking?
Pacino has been a bit of a clown for a while now. As for De Niro, I’ve heard people say he officially sold out when he appeared in the 2000 bomb that was The Adventures Of Rocky & Bullwinkle. I didn’t see the movie, but I have to disagree. Rocky & Bullwinkle was a film for kids in which De Niro played a colorful and (for many) iconic character: Fearless Leader. It didn’t work, fine, but the cartoon was beloved, so it wasn’t crazy to think that it might have. Besides: Travis Bickle and Jake La Motta don’t come around every year, and an actor’s gotta work, right?
The bigger offense is when you enter a genre for which you are known, and play the kind of tough guy character with which you are familiar, and do so opposite an actor to whom you have been compared throughout your career who is working on equally familiar turf. Under those circumstances, the product can’t just be good. It has to be fantastic, or else you disappoint your fans and taint your legacy (or what’s left of it) in the process.
Who knows, maybe Righteous Kill is terrific, but it’s painful just to watch its trailers. And De Niro and Pacino aren’t helping the film or themselves by making appearances like this on The Late Show. (Watch this Top 10 at your own risk, and marvel at Pacino, who reads the cue cards like English is a foreign language. So sad.)
What makes the Righteous Kill situation worse is that De Niro and Pacino did it right with Heat. Until then, as you most certainly know, the actors had never played opposite one another on screen. Michael Mann used that real-world anticipation to increase the fictional suspense. It was both thrilling and cathartic.
But this? This is pathetic.