Righteous Kill (DVD)

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Righteous Kill (DVD)
Righteous Kill

Righteous Kill is a 2008 American action thriller film directed by Jon Avnet and written by Russell Gewirtz. The film stars Robert De Niro and Al Pacino as New York City Police Department detectives on the hunt for a serial killer. It is the third film in which both De Niro and Pacino appear in starring roles (after The Godfather Part II and Heat), and also stars John Leguizamo, Carla Gugino, Donnie Wahlberg, Brian Dennehy, and Curtis Jackson.

Righteous Kill was released in the United States on September 12, 2008. The film received negative reviews from critics and grossed $74 million against a $60 million budget.


Police psychologists review recordings of a man (Robert De Niro), who states his name as Detective David Fisk, the Poetry Boy killer. The Poetry Boy earned the moniker for his modus operandi of murdering criminals and leaving short poems with their bodies. Fisk reveals that he looks up to his partner of almost 30 years, Detective Tom Cowan (whom the audience is led to believe is the character portrayed by Al Pacino), and considers him to be his role model of how a cop should be. Pacino s character is known by the nickname Rooster and De Niro s by Turk , and they are referred to as such outside of the recordings.

These recordings provide a narrative, and the film opens with the tenth victim, a pimp named Robert Rambo Brady (Rob Dyrdek). Turk and Rooster investigate the murder with the less-experienced detectives Karen Corelli (Carla Gugino), Simon Perez (John Leguizamo), and Ted Riley (Donnie Wahlberg). When they find a poem on the body, the cops link it to Poetry Boy.

As Poetry Boy murders acquitted rapist Jonathan Van Luytens and Father Connell, a Catholic priest and child molester (whose victims included Poetry Boy himself), tensions escalate between Turk, Corelli, and Perez. Turk is now living with Corelli, who happens to be Perez s ex-girlfriend. Poetry Boy assaults an intended fourteenth victim, Russian mobster Yevgeny Magulat (who survives), and goes on to shoot at Perez s house and rape Corelli. Perez and Riley suspect Turk of being Poetry Boy due to his marksmanship skills and psych evaluations, so they arrange a secretly supervised meeting between Turk and suspected drug dealer Marcus Spider Smith (Curtis Jackson), during which Turk supposedly must kill him. Turk proves his innocence during an encounter with this drug dealer as he has the wrong gun and humiliating but obviously inappropriate poem. After Perez and Riley leave the scene unsatisfied, Rooster kills Spider. During this scrape, Rooster inadvertently drops his journal.

Turk stumbles upon and reads Rooster s journal; Rooster claims Spider as Poetry Boy s fourteenth victim. Rooster puts Turk in front of a video camera and forces him to read the journal. At this point, it is revealed that the narration set Turk up as a red herring, and Rooster is the actual Poetry Boy. Turk s name is actually Tom Cowan, and Rooster s is David Fisk. Rooster lost his faith in the justice system when Turk planted a gun at the house of acquitted child molester and murderer Charles Randall (Frank John Hughes), convicting him. This leads Rooster to take the law into his own hands as the vigilante serial killer known as Poetry Boy.

When Turk finishes, he chases Rooster to a construction site. Rooster fires aimlessly to convince Turk to report that the Poetry Boy is assaulting a police officer, resisting arrest, and fleeing, but Turk resists. When Rooster takes aim at Turk, Turk fires, striking Rooster in the chest. Turk calls for an ambulance, but Rooster begs Turk to let him die. After some hesitation, Turk calls off the paramedics, allowing Rooster to succumb to his wounds. He is last shown coaching a Police Athletic League baseball team as Corelli looks on.


  • Robert De Niro as Detective Tom Turk Cowan
  • Al Pacino as Detective Dave Rooster Fisk
  • 50 Cent (Curtis Jackson) as Marcus Spider Smith
  • Carla Gugino as Detective Karen Corelli
  • John Leguizamo as Detective Simon Perez
  • Donnie Wahlberg as Detective Teddy Riley
  • Brian Dennehy as Lieutenant J.D. Hingis
  • Trilby Glover as Jessica
  • Melissa Leo as Cheryl Brooks
  • Oleg Taktarov as Yevgeny Mugalat
  • Sterling K. Brown as Detective Rogers
  • Alan Blumenfeld as Martin Baum
  • Frank John Hughes as Chuck Randall
  • Rob Dyrdek as Bobby Rambo Brady


Critical response

On Rotten Tomatoes reported that 18% of 147 critics gave the film a positive review, with an average rating of 4.1/10. The site s critics consensus reads: 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. Metacritic assigned the film a weighted average score of 36 out of 100, based on 27 critics, indicating generally unfavorable reviews .

The Times included Righteous Kill on its 100 Worst Films of 2008 list. Keith Phipps of The Onion s A.V. Club said, The novelty of watching De Niro and Pacino team up wears off pretty quickly, trudging through a thriller that would have felt warmed over in 1988. Director Jon Avnet doesn t offer much compensation for the absent suspense. James Berardinelli of ReelViews gave the film two stars (out of four), saying: This isn t just generic material; it s generic material with a dumb ending, and the director is a journeyman, not a craftsman. ... Its failure to live up to even modest expectations is a blow. There s nothing righteous to be found here.

Ken Fox of TV Guide also gave Righteous Kill a score of two stars out of four, saying: The entire movie is one big build-up to a twist that, while not exactly cheating, plays an awfully cheap trick. To get there, writer Russel Gewirtz and director John Avnet sacrifice mystery, suspense, sensible editing and everything else one expects to find in a police thriller just to keep the audience off-guard. It s not worth it, and the first real pairing of De Niro and Pacino is utterly wasted. (The two actors had co-starred in The Godfather Part II without appearing on screen together and in Heat, sharing the screen in just two scenes.)

Claudia Puig of USA Today gave the film one and a half stars out of four, saying: By the time the movie reaches its protracted conclusion, it feels like a slog. Pacino has a few funny lines, as does Leguizamo, but not nearly enough to save the film from collapsing under the weight of its own self-righteous tedium. Peter Travers of Rolling Stone gave Righteous Kill one star out of four, saying: Some people think Robert De Niro and Al Pacino would be a kick to watch just reading a phone book. Well, bring on that phone book. Righteous Kill, a.k.a. The Al and Bob Show, is a cop flick with all the drama of Law & Order: AARP. However, Richard Roeper gave the film 3 stars out of 4 and Tim Evans for Sky Movies remarked that the film was ... an effective whodunnit but—more importantly—it poses refined, complex questions about how the law operates in a so-called civilised society.

Al Pacino earned a Razzie Award nomination for Worst Actor for his performance in the film (and for 88 Minutes, also directed by Jon Avnet), but lost the award to Mike Myers for The Love Guru.

Box office

Righteous Kill grossed $40.1 million in the United States and Canada, and $38.4 million in other territories, for a worldwide total of $78.5 million.

In its opening weekend, Righteous Kill opened at #3, grossing $16.3 million, behind The Family That Preys and Burn After Reading. It made $7.4 million in its second weekend and $3.7 million the following two weekends. Overture Films paid $12 million to acquire the film, and stated that they would be happy if this film could gross $25 million in the United States theatrically. By comparison, Heat, which starred Pacino and De Niro in 1995, grossed over $180 million worldwide.

Home media

The film was released on DVD and Blu-ray on January 6, 2009. As of February 2009, 778,760 DVD units had been sold, gathering $16.9 million in revenue.




Alexandra Milchan, Avi Lerner, Daniel Rosenberg, Jon Avnet, Lati Grobman, Randall Emmett, Rob Cowan



Published Date




Rating MPA

R (Restricted)

Recording Length


Recording Studio






Amazon ASIN











1h 41min


Awards, 1 win & 2 nominations


Jon Avnet


Russell Gewirtz


Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Carla Gugino

Produced by

Jacob Avnet, Jon Avnet, Rob Cowan, Boaz Davidson, Danny Dimbort, Randall Emmett, Brian E. Frankish, George Furla, Lati Grobman, Avi Lerner, Alexandra Milchan, Marsha Oglesby, Daniel M. Rosenberg, Trevor Short

Music by

Edward Shearmur

Cinematography by

Denis Lenoir

Film Editing by

Paul Hirsch

Casting By

Nancy Klopper

Production Design by

Tracey Gallacher

Art Direction by

Christina Ann Wilson

Set Decoration by

Kathy Lucas

Costume Design by

Debra McGuire

Makeup Department

Rose Chatterton, John Jack Curtin, Voni Hinkle, Julie Kristy, Michael Laudati, Jerry Popolis, Sacha Quarles, Vincent Schicchi, Suzy Boyd Teekell, Michelle Vittone, Carla White

Production Management

Brian E. Frankish, Todd Gilbert, Joseph Lobato, Diego J. Martinez, Scott Putman, Oren Senderman, Joshua Throne

Second Unit Director or Assistant Director

Wendy Bledsoe, David Catalano, Leah King, Tommy Martin, Conte Mark Matal, Linda Montanti, Andrea O Connor

Art Department

Sean Bernard, Adam Davis, Damian Dinev, Susanna Glattly, Brent Godek, Robert Griffon Jr., Ryan Heck, Thomas Hocking, John Michael Kehoe, Lori A. Lopes, Wendy Mays, Kimberly Merlin, Ramona Messina, James Passanante, Buster Pile, Adam Russleman, Derek Scouler, Bobby Thomas, Oscar Thompson, Isabelle Trichard

Sound Department

Nate Arrigoni, Tim Chilton, Bob Costanza, Rich Crescenti, Mike Dickeson, Erich Gann, Judah Getz, G. Michael Graham, Stephen Grubbs, Devon Heffley Curry, Scott Hinkley, Anton Holden, Craig Kyllonen, Jimmy Lifton, Brian Magrum, Kevin Meltcher, Sharon Michaels, Andrew Morgado, Beauxregard Neylen, Terry O Bright, Mathew Price, Michael Primmer, Jill Schachne, Timothia Sellers, Richard Steele, Tim Terusa, Paul Tirone, David Torres, Paulette Victor-Lifton, Jonathan Wales, Oscar Zambrano, Jason Chiodo

Special Effects by

Matt Kutcher, Ian C. McArthur, Clark Parkhurst, Bob Trevino, Robert G. Willard, Jeffery D. Woodrel

Visual Effects by

Simeon Asenov, Yavor Asenov, Georgi Atanasov, Luba Atanasova, Dilyan Aynadzhiev, Svilen Aynadzhiev, Angelina Borisowa, Aleksandar Chalyovski, Greg Cheng, Scott Coulter, Nina Dimitrova, Alexander Dimov, Ivelina Dobreva, Daniel Donchov, Stanislav Draganov, Kremena Ganeva, Kiril Georgiev, Veselina Georgieva, Sofia Gesheva-Aleksieva, Evan Ghigliotty, Kiril Gizdov, Angel Ivanov, Ivan Gochev Ivanov, Rosen Ivanov, Velichko Ivanov, Albena Ivanova, Travis Wade Ivy, Peter Keranov, Lubomir Kirkov, Lyubomir Kirkov, Momchil Kirov, Rumen Kirov, Momchil Koev, Zornitsa Krasteva, Desislava Lazarova, Ajoy Mani, Jordan Markov, Nikolay Mihailov, Velislava Mihailova, Philip Nikolov, Nikolay Pachov, Nick Peshunoff, Svetoslav Petkov, Ekaterina Pushkarova, Greg Rodin, Gabriela Savova, Diana Simeonova, Georgi Slavov, Yanko Slavov, Atanas Stankov, Kevin Stevenson, Boyan Stoyanov, Milan Stoyanov, Kamen Stoykov, Stefan Tchakarov, Amy Tompkins, Stoilova Tsvetelina, David Van Woert, Leo Vezzali, Alex Zvezdev, Natali Gancheva


Alba Albanese, Peter Bucossi, Chris Cenatiempo, John Cenatiempo, Rory Clarke, Blaise Corrigan, Vince Cupone, Eddy Donno, Greg Harris, Buddy Joe Hooker, Jennifer Lamb, Jalil Jay Lynch, Curtis Lyons, Anthony Molinari, Brian Smyj, Caroline Vexler, Alba Albanese, Joseph Basile, Peter Bucossi, Chris Cenatiempo, John Cenatiempo, Rory Clarke, Blaise Corrigan, Gayle Hooker, Jalil Jay Lynch, Eric Norris, Brian Smyj, Derek Southers, Caroline Vexler

Camera and Electrical Department

Michael D. Alvarez, Dan Ayers, Dwayne Barr, Sarah Bowman, Ambar Capoor, Andy Colvin, Mark Shane Davis, Chris Drechsler, Christopher Duskin, Steven Edick, Sean P. Fickert, Luke Geissbuhler, Gonzalo Gonzalez, Tonja Greenfield, Jerry Gregoricka, Craig Grossmueller, Cory Gunter, Darryl Humber, Michael Paul Jones, Scott Koenigsberg, Scott Lipkowitz, Richard MacDonald, James Madrid, Duane Charles Manwiller, William R. Mayberry, Lance Mayer, Bill McConnell Jr., Zane Meyer, E.J. Misisco, Rob Muthamia, Anna Novick, Estevan Oriol, John Panuccio, Jesse Wayne Parker, Allen Parks, Jason Prowell, C. Alan Rawlins, Michael Rich, Jesse Roth, Declan Ryan, Riko Schatke, Chris Skotchdopole, Adam Smelin, Darrin Smith, David Speck, Henry Tirl, Jonathon Wagner, Elan Yaari, Lee Ayrton, Rashad Clinton, James O Hara

Casting Department

Jessica Daniels, Ryan Glorioso, Allison Hall, Barbara Harris, Abdul-Majeed Moulvi, Julie Swistak, David M. Waldron, Arthur Dutkanicz, Grant Wilfley

Costume and Wardrobe Department

Lorraine Calvert, Joseph Cigliano, Diane Crooke, Sandi Figueroa, Careen Fowles, Colleen Morris Glennon, Catherine Hahn, Shannon Jantz, Whitney Kyles, Iris Horta Lemos, Monica Ruiz-Ziegler

Editorial Department

Chris Adams, Cameron Arguelles, Cindy Bond, Tom Costantino, Michael Eaves, Travis Flynn, Nancy Jundi, David Kennedy, Peter Luong, Darin McCormick-Millett, Julie Monroe, Marc Ross, Jonathan Schwartz, Jane Tolmachyov, Diego Alex Borghello, Gina Hirsch, Jesse Wagler

Location Management

Keith Adams, Rob Coleman, Christina DeCharles, David Diamond, Aaron Hurvitz, Ed Lipscomb, Gregory McNamara, Christopher Menges, John A. Metoyer, Lauren Minichino, Naomi Motohashi, Michael Neale, Jim Small, Collin Smith, Sascha Springer, David Velasco, Dennis Voskov

Music Department

Selena Arizanovic, Michael K. Bauer, Bryan Carrigan, Chris Fogel, James Fogel, Daniel McIntosh, Robert Puff, Kayla Schmah, Ashley Waldron

Script and Continuity Department

Lisa McNeil

Transportation Department

Frank Bonsangue, David Travis Grieb, Teresa Haney, Kim Magruder, Josh Sarfaty, Hank Van Apeldoorn, John Michael Vukson

Additional Crew

Gregory Blohm, Harrison Bohrman, Devon Boyd, Christy Busby, Billy Capucilli, Neil Carter, Christopher Michael Casey, Kevin Chalk, John Charles, Daniel B. Cone, Alexandre Coscas, Lou Crisa, Frank Dauro, Jenn Derrenger, Annie Domingo, DTeflon, Damian Dydyn, Stephanie Dziczek, Manrico Erasmi, Rick Eyler, Jason Fesel, Claude Forest, Sylvia Frantom, Jeff Fuller, Sean Furst, Michael George, Jeffrey Giles, Eric Green, Sophie Green, P.J. Haines, Courtney Hale, Frank Hansen, Kyle Hasday, Lauren Heath, Takina Holloman, Jonathan Hood, Lauren Hurst, Jean E. Jacobson, Jeffro, Steve Jones, Jared Kaufmann, Mohamed Khan, Ashley Kravitz, Alan J. Lam, Brooke Lehman, Julia Lennon, Anthony Lote, Joan Mao, Antonia Markova, Jeff Millea, Fabian C. Moreno, Emily Murdock Baker, Mario Nila, Bill Oaks, Rouslan Ovtcharoff, Mark Parrish, J.P. Pettinato, Jacqui Popelka, Michael Quinn, S. Ramachandran, Lonnie Ramati, Brieann Rich, Nicholas Rich, Jeff Robinson, Tina Rosen, Vicki L. Sawyer, William Sepulveda, Bryan Snodgrass, Anusha Srinivasan, Lara St. Thomas, Matt Stewart, Cid Swank, Ray Tamayo, Tanya Thanadpojanamart, Betty Hong Yiu Tung, Angelo Vacco, Paul Van Zyl, Eva Vedock, Roman Viaris-de-Lesegno, M. Dal Walton III, Julie Weisel, Dana Wilkey, Anthony Yuse


Greg Alexander, Peter E. Berger, Jeff Bishop, Deb Cole, John Fabrizi, Jeff Head, Rodney G. Horton, Timothy Kellerman, Steven Rosenblum, Marianne Ruscito


Crime, Mystery, Thriller


Millennium Films, Emmett/Furla/Oasis Films (EFO Films), Grosvenor Park Media




English, Spanish, Russian





ImDb Rating Votes


Metacritic Rating


Short Description

Righteous Kill is a 2008 American action thriller film directed by Jon Avnet and written by Russell Gewirtz. The film stars Robert De Niro and Al Pacino as New York City Police Department detectives on the hunt for a serial killer. It is the third film in which both De Niro and Pacino appear in starring roles (after The Godfather Part II and Heat), and also stars John Leguizamo, Carla Gugino, Donnie Wahlberg, Brian Dennehy, and Curtis Jackson.

Righteous Kill was released in the United States on September 12, 2008. The film received negative reviews from critics and grossed $74 million against a $60 million budget.

Box Office Budget

$60,000,000 (estimated)

Box Office Opening Weekend USA


Box Office Gross USA


Box Office Cumulative Worldwide Gross



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