Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Jeff Bridges, Kevin Bacon
You may like this if you like: Men in Black (Barry Sonnenfeld, 1997), Ghostbusters (Ivan Reitman, 1984), Wild Wild West (Barry Sonnenfeld, 1999)
After being murdered by his scum-bag partner (Bacon, obviously), Boston cop Nick (Reynolds) finds himself, not entering the pearly gates, but in an interview room facing Mary-Louise Parker. She is an officer in a crime fighting unit known as the R.I.P.D (Rest in Peace Department, obviously), a place where dead cops are sent back to the land of the living to hunt down the dead that have escaped judgement and still live in disguise with the living. These are imaginatively referred to as ‘Deados’. Nick is teamed up with old West marshal Roy (Bridges) to go back to hunt down these Deados and also bring his ex partner to justice which ultimately uncovers a greater plot that threatens all living life on earth.
So, in a year dominated by them, we have another daft and expensive ($130 million budget apparently) blockbuster. Despite the extremely Men in Black-esque concept, this could have been fun. In spite of always having its tongue very much in its cheek and not hanging about at just over 90 minutes (Gore Verbinksi take note), R.I.P.D. is just a bit of a mess and overall a little boring. This is a shame as Reynolds and Bridges make an extremely likeable double act as the veteran and rookie, one of the many tried and tested clichés on show here. Bridges himself may be simply doing a comic exaggeration of Rooster Cogburn but is having a lot of fun, and is fun to watch too. There is very much an emphasis on this attempting to be a comedy, but unfortunately it tries to hard with many jokes falling flat on their face and the laughs often at rather than with.
As we go from one cheap looking set piece to another it is all very colourful and frantic, but yet surprisingly boring. There are plot holes and clichés a-plenty as well as set pieces that are obviously pilfered from similar films and this would have been fine but for me it just fails to hit the mark when it should have been so much more fun. Admittedly a younger audience would probably find it good fun making the 12a rating a slightly bizarre choice for me, but for adults a nap may be a better option. Okay, so it is not horrifically bad and perhaps worth a rent if you want something extremely easy to watch (alcohol will also help).
As we enter the final third the ‘surprise’ plot developments that we always expected (again stolen from previous films) Schwentke tries to save things by throwing in as much CGI and frantic action as possible. However, our patience has already been so tested it is hard to care, and it is both a visual and narrative mess that I was happy to see over.
R.I.P.D. is a film that has the right ingredients for an enjoyable action comedy; it is colourful, frantic and contains two likeable leads. However in trying way too hard to please too many, it is also repetitive, boring and nowhere near as funny as it thinks it is.