Worth Your Time: De Niro and Pacino in 'Heat'

Ten years ago, the prospect of Robert De Niro and Al Pacino on screen together would've provoked a very different reaction than the one I have when I see posters for their new cop flick, "Righteous Kill." Then, I'd have raced you to the theater. But now? All I see is two men stooping to self-parody in paycheck roles. My advice: skip "Righteous Kill" and catch Bobby and Al at a moment when the pairing actually meant something. It happened only once, in the 1995 crime epic "Heat," and—aside from the final shoot-out—only for a single scene: at a roadside diner, the two sit down for the most thrilling cup of coffee in cinema history. (Both actors were in "The Godfather: Part II" but never shared the screen.) Once De Niro and Pacino are mano a mano, the movie drops away as the characters discuss who they are and why they do the things they do, like rival samurai trading philosophies during a combat break. De Niro's bank robber is wary but guileless; Pacino's cocksure cop savors the presence of a worthy adversary. There's no music, no camera tricks. Just six minutes of pure acting. The men finish their coffee, then return to their own worlds. If only De Niro and Pacino would've left it that way.

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