Recycled, Inane, Pathetic and Dumb.
When Boston police officer Nick Walker is killed on the job, he’s given a reprieve from judgement in the afterlife if he agrees to serve a 100 year term with the R.I.P.D. (Rest in Peace Department). The R.I.P.D. hunts souls that have died, but managed to stay on earth in human form. “Dead’ohs”, as they’re called, continue to walk the earth, but leave a trail of negative energy in their wake that causes things to go awry… such as machinery malfunctions, for example. In order to keep the world safe and clean for humans, the R.I.P.D. track these souls and either bring them in for judgement or dispatch them permanently with special soul-destroying bullets.
Making matters worse for Nick is the fact he’s partnered with Roy Pulsipher (Jeff Bridges), a cantankerous lawman from the 18th century who has no patience for rookies.
Together they track a couple of Dead-ohs before discovering that something big is afoot. Someone is collecting pieces of an ancient artifact that will allow the dead to walk the earth permanently, and without having to hide in human form. This results in an increase in dead-oh activity, and before you know it the R.I.P.D. has more than it can handle. It’ll be up to Nick and Roy to find the artifact and destroy it before the dead take over the earth.
It’s going to be a common criticism, but it’s nearly impossible not to mention the similarities to “Men in Black”. A person steps through into a world he never knew existed and has to fight crazy creatures, while paired with a grizzly veteran who’s less than thrilled about taking on a newbie partner. It feels as though its cribbing off of that film, right down to the silly tone and creature design. At times, it’s hard to escape the retread feel of the proceedings.
Beyond that, the movie has a shallow plot, poor characters, goofy character designs, and unspectacular action scenes. I will say it made good use of 3D, though. Jeff Bridges mugs his way through the film with a thick, fake “Old West” accent that must have weighed about 20 pounds. It’s not one of his most endearing characters, to say the least, but whatever moments of humor there are in the film are courtesy of him and perhaps James Hong (the two RIPD officers appear on earth as an old Chinese man and a supermodel hot blonde, played by James Hong and Marisa Miller, respectively). Ryan Reynolds is plays it straight, which is to say “bland”. Without being able to do his fast talking, arrogant comedy schtick, he’s really not interesting at all. Kevin Bacon is involved on the bad guy side of the equation, but his part is barely worth mentioning.
The cast’s efforts are relatively game however, considering the poor script and lame visuals. The movie is supposed to be a tongue in cheek, humorous affair, but none of the jokes, comedy or characters worked for me. It felt flat from beginning to end. Reynolds and Bridges have no chemistry together, the dead that they pursue take on laughable cartoonish shapes when they’re discovered, and the McGuffin-centric plot is about as shallow as they come. It’s a movie that one day may help you kill time for free on cable, but I certainly wouldn’t recommend it under any other circumstance.