July 23, 2013 by Paul Curtin
When first hearing about the concept, I have to admit I was interested in seeing how the transition from comic book to film would turn out for R.I.P.D. With the director of one of my favorite action movies in years, RED, behind the project, it seemed like something that could be equally as special, if not better, than Robert Schwentke’s last movie.
I never read the comics or had ever heard of R.I.P.D. until seeing the debut trailer with its questionable CGI, but I was still for whatever reason interested in the goofy concept. What can I say? Show me a crazy idea about dead cops hunting giant dead freaks with chain guns, and I’m willing to buy in for the sake of it looking like an over-the-top fun experience.
As you can gather from the trailers, Nick (Ryan Reynolds) dies and has the option to join a supernatural law-enforcement division known as the Rest In Peace Department – a decision he makes instantly. He’s teamed up with Roy, the cliché older solo gunslinger (Jeff Bridges doing a silly version of his True Grit character) who lost the only partner he ever trusted and doesn’t want help from the rook. The two are assigned to find and bust “deados”, renegade souls that have evaded the afterlife and are still living disguised as people on Earth. Of course, there’s some bigger plot uncovered, and it’s up to the two dead lawmen to save the living world.
R.I.P.D. had potential; hell, we’ve pretty much already seen the concept successfully done before with aliens in Men in Black. But despite its $130 million budget, solid action director, and cast of A-list actors, R.I.P.D. as a whole just isn’t very good. The typical end of days story seems rushed. The characters are undeveloped and hardly have any chemistry with one another. The special effects aren’t very special. The 3D isn’t noticeable. And almost all the best parts in the movie are given away by the trailer.
Yet, with how bad R.I.P.D. sounds, I still can’t help but admit that I somewhat enjoyed it. It’s nowhere near as good as the first Men in Black, or even the second or third… but the movie still has a tiny bit of charm and a good share of solid action sequences and funny moments that made it worth watching – maybe not worth watching in theaters, but worth a view whether on Netflix or Redbox or when it’s being played to death on various basic cable channels.
While there isn’t any real chemistry between Reynolds and Daniels, and Kevin Bacon plays the most generic “I’m a bad guy who does bad things because I’m bad” role ever, the acting isn’t bad per se, and the team of Reynolds and Daniels still manages to work. And though it’s primarily an action film, it’s that comedy that helps carry the film from scene to scene and keep it alive.
The twist in R.I.P.D. (other than swapping out aliens for deados) is that Nick and Roy don’t look the same to people on Earth as they did before they died. It’s another gag you’ll see in the trailer, and if you didn’t find it funny watching the trailer, then you won’t enjoy the film repeatedly using it for cheap laughs. Reynolds looks like an old Chinese guy (James Hong), and Bridges a smoking hot blonde bombshell (Marisa Miller).
Hong and Miller are only shown a handful of times throughout the movie and only have a couple lines, but almost every scene shown with them is hysterical and had me laughing. It’s a gag that is repeatedly used throughout the entire movie to the point that it begins to get old, yet still manages to get a few extra laughs even when almost completely played out towards the end. Again, if you didn’t find it funny when watching the trailer, you’re not going to like R.I.P.D.
R.I.P.D. isn’t a bad movie, it’s just a shame that with so much going for it that it couldn’t live up to its full potential. The movie as a whole is a mess and even at its best a few times only matches the Men in Black franchise that it so desperately is trying to be and never surpasses it in any way. It’s not clear exactly what went wrong during its production to have so many elements that just don’t mix well together, but the sum of its parts still manages to make for a few exciting moments, a few big laughs, and an average movie at best. R.I.P.D. gets 2.5 out of 5 stars (Okay).