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dir Jon Avnet
scr Russell Gewirtz
with Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Carla Gugino, Curtis Jackson, John Leguizamo, Donnie Wahlberg, Brian Dennehy, Trilby Glover, Melissa Leo, Alan Rosenberg, Barry Primus, Saidah Arrika
release US 12.Sep.08, UK 25.Sep.08
Something's fishy: DeNiro and Pacino
|R E V I E W B Y R I C H C L I N E|
Highly touted as a meaty teaming of screen titans DeNiro and Pacino, this cop drama is far too ordinary to live up to the hype. Spiky and watchable, it doesn't really stretch anyone. Especially the audience.
New York detectives Turk and Rooster (DeNiro and Pacino) have been partners for 30 years, but aren't ready to retire. Their latest case is a series of vigilante murders of criminals who have slipped through the net. But they're not very happy that they must team with a younger pair of detectives from across town (Leguizamo and Wahlberg). They're also working with a forensics expert (Gugino) who happens to be Turk's girlfriend. And all evidence points to the fact that a cop is the killer.
From the opening, the film is intercut with Turk confessing to the crimes on a grainy videotape, but as it progresses, the script works so hard to cast doubt on everyone else in the story that we realise we can't take anything as given. In other words, a there's the creeping realisation that the screenwriter thinks he's terribly clever when all he's doing is withholding information until a Big Reveal later on.
This is a very talky movie, but no one says much beyond jingoistic macho cliches ("Most people respect the badge, but everybody respects the gun!"). The plot is actually involving, even if it takes few risks with the characters, giving the actors very little to do or say that's interesting. So Avnet spices things up with whizzy camera work and editing.
DeNiro is clearly taking this seriously, with his Dexter-like narration and intense-but-smiley performance as a slightly too-good cop. Pacino, meanwhile, is relaxed and often quite funny as a guy who has always idolised his partner. (He's clearly written to be 10 years younger, rather than three and a half years older, as is actually the case.) Together they definitely have their moments.
Meanwhile, Leguizamo and Wahlberg stir things up a bit with some attitude and humour, while Gugino provides a nicely warped feminine spark. But all three unceremoniously leave the room for the strangely draggy climactic scene between DeNiro and Pacino. They make the most of the material, but there's not much there to begin with.
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© 2008 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall|
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