Directed by: Robert Schwentke
If ‘Men in Black’ never existed, and Jeff Bridges hadn’t been in ‘True Grit’ then ‘R.I.P.D.’ might have had the several ounces of originality which could have made it a break out box office hit.
Instead ‘R.I.P.D.’ flopped.
The problems of ‘R.I.P.D.’ stand mostly in the casting of Ryan Reynolds, and to an extent the future version of Ryan Reynolds Kevin Bacon. Reynolds brings the charm, Bacon backs it up with smarm. But yuck, there is something that prevents Ryan Reynolds from connecting with cinema audiences. Ever since ‘National Lampoon’s Van Wilder’ he has been talked about in certain circles as being charismatic and wise cracking, but there is also a far more damning and consistent theme with Reynolds work, in that he is a franchise killer. Think ‘The Green Lantern’, think ‘Blade: Trinity’. Even in this film, which ends with the most blatant sequel set-up ever, you think to yourself – I really don’t think ‘R.I.P.D. 2’ will be made because of Ryan bloody Reynolds.
‘R.I.P.D.’ is no dafter than ‘Men in Black’, ‘Wild Wild West’ or ‘Ghostbusters’, but the trouble is that those films got there first decades before. The story of ‘R.I.P.D.’ goes like this… Boston PD detective Nick Walker (Reynolds) is double crossed by his partner Bobby Hayes (Bacon). Hayes kills Walker and Walker goes to Police purgatory, the Rest in Peace Department, a place for dead cops who have some unfinished business back in the land of the living. The dead cops are responsible for tracking down deados, crooked monsters whose souls have not gone to the afterlife. So their job is to travel back to earth and try and capture the deados. In order to remain undetected by those they have left behind the dead cops are given unique avatars that have no connection to their previous selves.
Nick Walker is partnered with Civil War era U.S. Marshal Roycephus aka Roy Pulsipher. Like any good buddy cop movie the unlikely partners bicker and squabble their way through several scenes before coming together at the end to crack the big case. That case gives Walker the chance to gain vengeance against the man who screwed him over. Most of the laughs come from Jeff Bridges, but Reynolds cracks a few of those darn one liners he is so well known for causing stress lines to flicker on my enraged forehead.
There are some good parts of ‘R.I.P.D’. Mary-Louise Parker excels as the stern Police Chief Proctor, and living avatars of Roy and Nick are an elderly Chinese man and a stunningly attractive catwalk model (Marissa Miller) provide several ha ha ha’s. But because ‘R.I.P.D’ is a film composed from bits and pieces of other films, and the source material of these other films is just too strong and too beloved, it seems almost a crime to steal from them.