Trailers always distort to this or that degree and sometimes even unwittingly undermine the feature they’re trying to sell, but a voice is telling me that this trailer for Jon Avnet‘s Righteous Kill (Overture, 9.12) is doing a straightforward job of telling us what this cop thriller basically is. It could be an okay sit but you can also tell right off the bat that it sure ain’t Heat. The adjectives that come to mind are “second-tier,” “crude,” “flip” and “paycheck job for Robert De Niro and Al Pacino.”

I decided it was a piece of cheese right at the beginning when a judge says “order! order!” in a courtroom. That’s a dog-eared cliche that you might hear on a Saturday Night Live sketch….maybe, in an ironic sense. No real-life judge would ever use the term “order!” for the simple reason that only actors playing judges in second- rate movies say this.
The main thing I got from the trailer is that Pacino, 67, looks younger (thinner, tighter face, cooler-looking hair) than De Niro, 63.
The plot is about ethical conflicts among two veteran detectives who half-agree with the motives of a vigilante killer who’s offing bad guys. Not original enough….sorry.
It’s very, very hard to make a film work to any degree, but Avnet, no offense, simply lacks that grade-A pedigree element. His two best films, Fried Green Tomatoes and The War, came out 17 and 14 years ago, respectively. Up Close and Personal (’96) was a disappointment given the Jessica Savitch material he had to work with. Red Corner (’97) wasn’t bad (production designer Richard Sylbert did a fine job of recreating Beijing in Los Angeles) but it was also the last feature Avnet directed in a decade. His most recent effort, 88 minutes, is being released on 4.18 from TriStar.