Written by: Phil Hay, Matt Manfredi
Directed by: Robert Schwentke
Based on the Dark Horse comic Rest In Peace Department comes R.I.P.D., which follows a newly deceased police officer, Nick Walker, played by Ryan Reynolds. He is betrayed by his partner, Kevin Bacon, and is sent packing into the afterlife, which just so happens to be a small office room where he is given an ultimatum. Nick Walker can either join the Rest In Peace Department (R.I.P.D.), a supernatural police force dedicated to eliminating escaped souls called ‘Deado’s’, or he can risk being judged into heaven or hell which is made more complicated by the fact that he was slightly a dirty cop.
Walker is partnered with a grumpy Jeff Bridges, named Roy Pulsipher, and together they drop down to Earth and are tasked with hunting down the lost souls. Reynolds has a hard time accepting that he’s dead and has to let go of his wife but there are other nefarious activities that are occurring which threaten all of life on Earth. So naturally the two partners need to get along for long enough to save the world which may or may not include Walker’s old partner.
Let the supernatural ‘Men In Black’ish chaos begin.
+ Likable Leads – There is something about Ryan Reynolds that makes an audience want to root for him. He is partnered with Roy, Jeff Bridges, who is a grumpy old vet and much of the entertainment factor comes from their dialogue exchanges with each other. The story archetype of the rookie being partnered with the veteran with differing ideals works and it is done successively in this film. Reynolds and Bridges have both played similar roles before and therefore slip into these characters shoes with ease.
+ Good Internal Conflict – Ryan Reynolds character has a hard time accepting that he’s dead and that he has to let his wife go, so that she can grieve and move on with the rest of her life without him. Roy died in 1900 and has had plenty of time to accept the fact that he’s now dead, so he frequently is telling his rookie partner to get over it. This internal conflict was far more interesting then the actual storyline conflict itself.
− Terrible CGI – The ‘Deado’s’ could have been cool looking opponents for the R.I.P.D. officers, but instead they looked like pre-1995 CGI monstrosities that should never have seen the light of day especially considering the movies bloated budget. The action scene in which they were chasing an over-weight X-Men Origin’s Blob-ish escaped soul looked like a crappy Youtube cartoon movie. Nothing takes me out of an action film quicker then shoddy effects.
− Poorly Constructed Plot – About half-way through the movie it seemed like the screenwriters realized that they needed to have more to the plot and so they complicated the plot and made it confusing… or maybe I just didn’t give a shit? Kevin Bacon, who played Reynold’s ex-partner, coincidently is responsible for a threat that will destroy the world. And guess who just so happened to have died and got resurrected as an R.I.P.D. officer? The partner he screwed over! How convenient.
− Lack of Defined Rules – While this film was based after the Dark Horse comic book series of the same name and readers of said comic might understand the rules of the universe, watchers of the movie are just thrown into the world and expected to understand whats going on. Imagine if Luke Skywalker had his force powers and George Lucus decided not to explain what a Jedi is? For example both Reynolds and Bridges appear as human avatars, an old Asian man and a hot seductress respectively, and when they take out their guns normal people see bananas. So what do regular people see when they shoot the bananas? We are even more clueless then Reynolds rookie officer.
What could have ended up being an entertaining romp down Men In Black memory lane, R.I.P.D. quickly becomes a confusing mess of a film with crappy special effects and a terrible plot. Luckily Ryan Reynolds and Jeff Bridges make this movie watchable thanks to their familiar portrayal of characters that the audience can’t help but root for. Kevin Bacon and Mary-Louise Parker are wasted here, however, and are under utilized. I’ve seen worse and I’ve seen much, much better but overall this movie is largely forgettable despite the two solid leads.
I would have rather skipped R.I.P.D. and went to go see Men In Black 7 instead.