Written by Jessica Hanlon.
The Rest in Peace Department, or R.I.P.D., is the place where not only deceased police officers go to work, but also where interesting comic book adaptations go to die. Based on the comic by Peter M. Lenkov, R.I.P.D. follows recently deceased Boston Cop Nick Walker (Ryan Reynolds), who is recruited into the titular police force. Partnered with gun slinging Wild West lawman Roy Pulsinger (Jeff Bridges), Walker is tasked with finding and capturing the ridiculously named “Deados” that have slipped through the cracks. Inevitably, they get caught up in a conspiracy that threatens to destroy humanity as we know it.
If this sounds crazy or even slightly confusing, don’t worry, director Robert Schwentke and his “writing team” (if you could call them that) waste plenty of the film’s 90 minutes explaining every little thing over and over again. The incessant and pointless explanatory speeches sound like they are coming from a frustrated teacher who insists you weren’t paying attention, taking you even further out of the movie.
It’s almost impressive how quickly R.I.P.D. takes all of the usual ingredients in your summer action blockbuster and turns it into a disaster. The film’s plotting is barely existent, with storylines being picked up and dropped like a hot potato before finally culminating in a predictable and underwhelming third act. Despite the short run-time, R.I.P.D. seems to drag on with all too familiar action sequences, worsened by one-note performances. The actors come across as though they are reading dot points off an early draft rather than a finished script, and their lack of enthusiasm does little to soften the blow.
Ryan Reynolds is below lackluster here as the vengeful Walker; his drive to protect his wife and get payback against Hayes (Kevin Bacon), the crooked partner who murdered him, is neither engaging nor particularly believable. Mary-Louise Parker (who plays Proctor, their heavenly police chief) and Kevin Bacon are both similarly overburdened with the task of trying to humanize horrible one-dimensional characters and ultimately fail to give us any reason to care about them. Undeniably, the biggest insult has to be Bridges as the irritating Roy Pulsinger. Despite giving an uncanny imitation of his recent turn as Rooster Cogburn in True Grit, Bridges’ performance here is terrible. He’s never as funny as the writers insist he is, instead just coming off as an annoying jackass. Likewise, the biggest running gag of the film, Roy and Nick’s human avatars; an elderly Asian man (played by James Hong) and Victoria’s Secret model Marisa Miller, is not all that funny the first time, and even less so the dozen-plus times it’s reprised.
It’s not all bad though. Director Robert Schwentke adds some real flavour to the film’s gunfights. His swirling camera zooms in and out of the different goings on and he creates an understandable geography for the action taking place. However, these few great visual moments are not enough of a compensation for the sub-par CGI that removes any weight from the rest of the action sequences. With over a year in post-production and a $100 million+ budget, it’s quite surprising the final product is as unrealistic as this. Seeing it in 2D, I cringe to think how awful it would be in another dimension.
As Roy would put it; R.I.P.D “ain’t worth diddlysquat”. Whilst not an entirely horrible premise, this is a poorly adapted script. Lazily written characters are held together with a plotline so thin it might as well not exist, leaving neither writer nor actor with any clue of what to do with it. Needless to say, the only thing that needs to rest in peace is any hope Universal has of a sequel – because that dream is well and truly dead.
THE REEL SCORE: 3/10