R.I.P.D. IS SUPPOSED TO BE A SUMMER BLOCKBUSTER ABOUT UNDEAD POLICE. AFTER WATCHING IT YOU’LL WANT TO DRIVE A STAKE THROUGH ITS HEART.
Director: Robert Schwentke
Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Jeff Bridges, Mary-Louise Parker and Kevin Bacon
Studio: Universal Pictures
Length: 1 Hr and 36 Min
Comic books have arguably become the most fertile source material for summer blockbusters in recent years. Whether it’s more traditional super heroes like Batman and the Avengers, or more fantasy fare like Hellboy, contemporary comic books have provided Hollywood with plenty of fuel for its creative furnace. Even Tom Hanks’ period drama Road to Perdition was adapted from a graphic novel, proving that comic books offer a rich diversity far beyond the simple spandex crowd. So it’s no surprise that Universal Pictures adapted it’s new sci-fi/fantasy comedy R.I.P.D. after the Dark Horse comic of the same name. Unfortunately for Universal, the movie’s about as flat as the paper the comics are printed on.
It starts off as a normal day in the life of Boston Police Detective Nick Walker (Ryan Reynolds) and his partner Hayes (Kevin Bacon). But soon after they punch the clock they find themselves leading a raid on a drug lab, complete with body armour and SWAT team. Over the course of the raid, Nick gets himself shot and killed, but that’s just the beginning of his adventures. Nick’s got a few karmic blemishes in his cosmic file, so before he can face his Final Judgement, he’s yanked off the follow-the-light-express and recruited in the Rest in Peace Department, a collection of former law men and women working to redeem themselves by capturing renegade souls still haunting the world of the living. Nick is partnered up with Roy (Jeff Bridges), a nineteenth century U.S. Marshal who loves his hat and women’s bare ankles but hates authority, regulations and rookies and shoots off his as mouth more than his guns. While Roy’s reluctantly showing Nick the ropes, the two stumble upon a plot by some renegade wayward souls to bring about the Apocalypse, a plot that has ties to Nick’s previous life. The two partners are soon racing against time to single-handedly save the world.
R.I.P.D. is an interesting idea, though not entirely fresh. And the plot device where R.I.P.D officers appear completely different when returned to Earth injects a little extra humour into the movie. Roy appears to the everyday person on the street as a blonde, statuesque supermodel in a skin-tight dress. Nick on the other hand is a Chinese geriatric in baggy clothes and the resulting sight gags are worth a couple of decent chuckles. Reynolds occasionally shows off his wit and Bridges verbal meandering wanders into humorous territory once in a while but the best performance is easily Mary-Louise Parker, who chews up her limited screen time as the Proctor who runs the Rest in Peace Department. Beyond that though, R.I.P.D is pretty disappointing. In fact, it’s already topping many critic’s list as the worst summer movie of 2013.
R.I.P.D is a bit schizophrenic; it can’t decide if it’s trying to be a supernatural version of Men in Black, with a veteran in a super secret law enforcement division training a wide-eyed newbie how to protect the world from monsters, or a 21st century incarnation of Ghostbusters, a couple of guys protecting the living by capturing the dead. Bridges and Reynolds share almost no chemistry in the film’s lead roles and R.I.P.D offers nothing new in the special effects department (some scenes look eerily familiar in nature to other effects driven films but are much smaller in scope). In fact, some of the effects look like they could have been cut and pasted from a mid-quality PS3 game. The script rushes through rudimentary explanations of story points, the plot is predictable and can’t really withstand even the most basic questions and a lot of R.I.P.D’s humour feels forced. And as far as movie villains go, R.I.P.D’s big bad is pretty underwhelming. Director Robert Schwentke and company tailored the story to allow for a sequel, but combine R.I.P.D’s shortcomings with the fact that it’s competing with the also newly released Red 2, the highly anticipated horror movie The Conjuring as well as other recently released titles (Despicable Me 2, and Pacific Rim to name a few) and its tough to see this launching a franchise. R.I.P.D could have been really fun, and there was plenty of source material for the movie makers to explore for genuine laughs, but it turned out to be little more than 96 minutes of uninspired, disappointing boredom. Too often it seemed the movie was merely going through the motions with about as much enthusiasm as an actual funeral. And watching it will make you feel like someone (or their career) had just died.