Director: Robert Schwentke.
Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Jeff Bridges, Mary-Louise Parker, Kevin Bacon, Rober Knepper, Larry Joe Campbell.
Running Time: 96 minutes.
Synopsis: A recently slain cop joins a team of undead police officers working for the Rest In Peace Department and tries to find the man who murdered him.
Despite a delayed release following a number of production problems and reshoots, the supernatural buddy comedy R.I.P.D. turned out rather well without being anything remarkable in the crowded summer blockbuster season. Certainly the chemistry between leads Ryan Reynolds and a brilliant Jeff Bridges has a lot to do with that. Well, it’s most probably its saving grace as the mismatched MEN IN BLACK approach may come across as clichéd or even tired for some, yet the duo really are great together.
The film, based on the Dark Horse comic-book by Peter M. Lenkov, is not perfect by any stretch but you can’t deny it’s a fun fantasy as present-day cop Nick Walker (Ryan Reynolds) finds himself questioning his and partner Kevin Bacon’s recent corrupt activities in nabbing a mysterious collection of gold found at the scene of a drug bust. Believing it could have been used to begin a comfortable life with his wife Julia (IRON MAN 3’s Stephanie Szostak), Nick’s naivety sees him betrayed by his trusted partner and finds himself quickly crossing into the afterlife in an impressive slow-mo set-piece. He’s given the option to take a chance with the big guy’s decision in heading for the pearly gates or purgatory – or joining the Rest In Peace Department, a job bringing to justice the devious souls refusing to leave their place in the real world. I think it’s safe to say it’s pretty obvious which choice he makes.
Going back to the MEN IN BLACK similarities, it’s something that’s inescapable once he’s partnered with Bridges’ long-serving Wild West lawman Roy Pulsipher. His bearded and grouchy old-timer is hilarious as he warms to his new rookie sidekick. Not that Reynolds is overshadowed as he deals with the emotional impact of never being able to see his loved one again, or rather she’s unable to see him in his otherworldly avatar form, instead appearing back on Earth in the ingenious form of short veteran actor James Hong and even better, Bridges as a towering buxom blonde stunner Marisa Miller. It’s certainly what makes for a number of stand out comedic moments and is never a plot device you tire of seeing. Obviously Miller being easy on the eye helps.
Surprisingly, what lets R.I.P.D. down more than anything else are the inconsistent visual effects which are sometimes pretty impressive but at times sadly lacking, even often ropey, particularly in the transformation of the supernatural characters. Still, the overall weak story may be simple and largely predictable, yet without the likeable Reynolds and Bridges in the duo’s budding relationship, you’d be hard pressed to find anything else worthy of note. The Dude again delivers hysterical, quotable lines, especially when discussing his own passing all those years ago involving a hyena and his skull, which will have many howling with laughter, not forgetting his fetish for ladies’ ankles! Supporting characters Bacon, Szostak and even Parker aren’t as well-rounded or strong as you’d like them but they’re decent with what little they’re given.
R.I.P.D. is certainly a marginal step up from the first MEN IN BLACK outing (and definitely the second). Schwentke’s effort is a more adult approach to the same formula and you’ll prefer to see this pairing venture onto greater adventures as opposed to the more bankable Smith and Jones. Give R.I.P.D. a chance and you may just be surprised at how much – admittedly forgettable – fun you’ll have.