Review by Derrick Carter
Running Time: 1 hour 36 minutes
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for Violence, Sci-Fi/Fantasy Action, some Sensuality, and Language including Sex References
Directed by: Robert Schwentke
Written by: Phil Hay & Matt Manfredi
(based on the comic books by Peter M. Lenkov)
Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Jeff Bridges, Kevin Bacon, Mary-Louise Parker, Stephanie Szostak, James Hong & Marisa Miller
As I write this, R.I.P.D. has already become the fifth biggest box office bomb of all-time. For a movie financed on a budget of over 100 million, it certainly doesn’t show in the film itself. This comic book adaptation is either trying to channel a new GHOSTBUSTERS for a new generation or (more obviously) completely ripping off MEN IN BLACK with a supernatural twist. The biggest complement I give R.I.P.D. is that the ultra-quick pacing rushes through the entire film (kind of how I, FRANKENSTEIN seemed in a hurry to get the plot over and done with). I found one running joke to be funny, but everything else falls flat on its face. It almost seems like the production was halted halfway through completion and the result was still released as a finished film. If the poor script is any indication though, more time dedicated to the production might have churned a movie that’s even worse than this cut already is.
Nick Walker (Reynolds) is a cop who has recently stolen some gold with his shady partner Bobby (Bacon). After being killed in the line of duty, Nick is sucked up into a heavenly vortex and winds up in an atypical otherworldly office. He’s given the choice of either facing judgment as a dirty cop or working off his sins by serving the Rest In Peace Department. So Nick becomes a member of the R.I.P.D. Saddled with Roy (Bridges), a deceased cowboy whose methods are radical, for partner, Nick comes across an undead conspiracy that may spell the end of mankind on Earth. It’s up to Roy and Nick, despite contradictory orders to follow simple directions, to get to the bottom of a possible apocalypse and save the day.
For a movie set in Boston, the streets seem to be damn near deserted in every city scene. This might come off as nitpicking, until you take into account that it merely adds to a half-assed feeling that R.I.P.D. reeks of. Nobody seems to be even trying to make a good movie. Ryan Reynolds plays the straight-man role and executes it with the same comic book hero charisma that he showed off in GREEN LANTERN, which is to say none at all. Jeff Bridges can do comedy well. That’s already been seen in THE BIG LEBOWSKI. He’s just plain embarrassing here and playing the over-the-top bad-accented cowboy shtick to an aggravating level. Then there’s Kevin Bacon as an obvious antagonist (not a spoiler, since it’s given away in the first five minutes). Bacon seems to be reciting lines of cue cards whilst a check is being waved behind the camera. The man can act, but he’s sleepwalking through this role.
The effects don’t fare any better. The Deados (evil spirits hiding on Earth) that Reynolds and Bridges hunt appear to be ripped right out of the LEFT 4 DEAD video games. These Deados bear a striking resemblance to the special-infected zombies in LEFT 4 DEAD. When looking at a hugely overweight one with a bulging neck, anyone familiar with those games will instantly be reminded of a Boomer. It’s not even as if they were designs based on those monsters, but it appears as if somebody literally took the video quality graphics and placed them within this failed blockbuster. R.I.P.D. fails at the comedic elements too. Running jokes make little to no sense and feel very forced. Deados reveal themselves around spicy food (your guess is as good as mine) and there’s a blob-like Deado (the Boomer lookalike) that makes Elvis quotes the whole time he’s on-screen. This nonsensical joke might have been funny if this film were made back in the 70’s or (even stretching it) 80’s, but it’s remarkably stale and dusty here.
One running gag in R.I.P.D. got a couple of chuckles out of me. That would be how Reynolds and Bridges appear in the eyes of the living around them (their “avatars” are an old Chinese guy and a petite young woman). I admittedly thought that was a little clever and it’s the only saving grace that keeps this film from an F grade. Though based on a comic book series (which was also written after the Men In Black comics had been published), R.I.P.D. comes off as desperate to imitate MEN IN BLACK at every possible turn and comes off as a disastrous, painfully lazy movie. It’s appropriate that this film flopped in its theatrical run (losing more than 50 million in the process). I shudder to think that any of the people working on this film had complete faith in this project. R.I.P.D. is dead on arrival. To those who think that’s a clichéd and corny pun to end this review on, it’s about as clever as anything this movie has to offer.