A young rookie is teamed up with a grouchy old veteran in an unusual law enforcement agency to find and extract monsters hidden in the real world as normal people. Sounds an awfully lot like Men in Black, but how can that be in 2013? Step forward R.I.P.D. By replacing aliens with dead people and Will Smith/Tommy Lee Jones with Ryan Reynolds/Jeff Bridges, you might as well call this a remake – without the success. In actual fact it’s based on a comic book, so how it apes this so evidently shows that even a story based on an original idea can turn out recycled.
Set in an unusually sparse and lifeless Boston, detective Nick Walker (Reynolds) is betrayed and killed by his partner Bobby Hayes (Kevin Bacon – refreshing to see he’s not just doing EE commercials) and subsequently sent to the afterlife’s R.I.P.D. (Rest in Peace Department). They exist because certain dead people do not leave the earth but remain as monsters, nicknamed ‘deados’, hidden in human form. The R.I.P.D. recruit deceased police officers to capture and take these beings back to the other side where they belong.
While his new partner, Roy Pulsipher (Bridges), an ex-US marshal from the Wild West, is not best pleased about teaming up with this newbie to show him the ropes, Nick sees this as an opportunity to avenge his death. However, these deados soon threaten to overrun the living world so it is up to them to put their differences aside to save the day.
Thanks in part to the humungous flop of The Lone Ranger, the tanking of this in the States went fairly unnoticed over the summer. It barely registered with audiences too, being generic and predictable in all aspects, and considering it had a budget of $130million you wonder where all the money was spent.
Yet it is not as disastrous to watch as one might expect of a financial calamity. The two leads do at least make an amusing duo; Bridges channelling his character from True Grit in a rather sardonic manner and Reynolds supplying his usually cocky retorts that has seen him through many a film.
But in spite of some rather funny – and bizarre – dialogue (Roy proclaiming “one of those coyotes had a way with my head” when talking about his death prior to joining the R.I.P.D.), Bridges is barely audible at times with his thick western accent. As for his partner, Reynolds displays a distinctly less energetic demeanour to his repertoire, probably contemplating why he continues to do these comic-book characters (they are fast becoming his Achilles heel – ahem, Green Lantern).
There are a couple of things which try to elevate it out of the ordinariness: the time-standing still effect when someone dies and the gag of what they both look like to everyone in the real world (Reynolds’ “avatar” is an old Chinese man while Bridges’ is a hot buxom blonde). Although this one-trick joke and effect – which appears to have been where all the budget was spent as the rest of the CGI is surprisingly shoddy – does wear thin, fast.
And when the ending comes around, it’s one we’ve all seen before: the conclusion of the antagonist’s minions falling through a portal in the sky to take over the world being a prime example of a plot device already used over the previous years in Transformers 3 and Avengers Assemble.
R.I.P.D.’s enjoyment will depend entirely on how much your expectation levels are. Having Bacon around certainly helps (doesn’t he do slimy to perfection?) and Mary-Louise Parker also highlights her comedic talents by carrying on her interest in older men from RED as Bridges’ flirting foil and boss. But being utterly forgettable, along with the fact there are far superior supernatural comedies out there such as MIB and Ghostbusters, it’s very much R.I.P. for R.I.P.D.