Film review #574
Director: Robert Schwentke
SYNOPSIS: Police officer Nick Walker is killed by his partner Bobby Hayes as he wants to get rid of some gold that the two found on a random drug bust. He finds himself recruited into the R.I.P.D.: The “Rest in Peace Department,” which is a supernatural force whose purpose is to hunt down people that have died and still roaming the Earth. Partnered with a veteran officer, the two discover the circumstances behind Nick’s death are tied to a much bigger plot…
THOUGHTS/ANALYSIS: R.I.P.D. is a sci-fi action film based on the comic book of the same name. The film opens up with police officers Nick Walker (Reynolds) and Bobby Hayes (Bacon) are discussing some gold they took on a random drug bust, but kept it for themselves. Nick decides he is going to turn the gold into evidence, and Bobby decides to kill Nick at their next drug bust when no one else is around. Nick finds himself dead, but before he is whisked away to the afterlife, he is brought to the R.I.P.D. to be recruited as an officer who specialises in thwarting people who have died and are still hanging around Earth, causing them to transform into hideous creatures called “Deados.” Nick is partnered with veteran officer Roicephus “Roy” Pulsipher, who was a sheriff in the Old West before he died, and the two manage to stumble upon a plot that threatens the whole world, which they naturally have to put a stop to. The story can very easily be summed up as a combination of the films Men in Black and Ghost: you can see certain scenes are almost complete cut-and-paste jobs from these two. Alongside this, it doesn’t have either the worldbuilding or quickfire comedy of Men in Black, nor the emotional depth of Ghost, leaving a film that just completely fails to build its own identity. The plot of an ancient artifact being built that will wipe out the Earth is basically the plot to every Men in Black film. It feels like the script was just finished at it’s first draft, and no one bothered to add in any specific details or worldbuilding to give it some depth. Despite the criticisms, the film actually does a good job of avoiding any boring exposition, and just jumps right into everything and explaining things as it goes. Part of this might be because there’s not much to actually explain, but at least the film manages to keep momentum going over the rather short runtime of just over ninety minutes.
The characters are very much what you would expect: Ryan Reynolds is Ryan Reynolds: it doesn’t matter what the name of the actual character, because he’s just playing the same character he always does. Jeff Bridges playing Old West lawman Roeciphus “Roy” Pulsipher is certainly the stand out performance. Again, he’s not got much depth beyond being the “grizzled veteran” type, but it’s guaranteed fun every time he is on screen. Kevin Bacon as the villain is unremarkable, and Nick’s wife Julia barely leaves a mark. As mentioned, the film lacks and seems to avoid the emotional depth that would have made their relationship and the significance of Nick’s death a solid plot point. Even if it was, it wouldn’t have been any different from the plot of Ghost (again, as mentioned). The film doesn’t seem to know what it wants its audience to be: it doesn’t have the established jokes and wit to be a comedy movie for young adults, the lack of emotional drama for older adults, and is a bit too adult for younger viewers, so the film just rushes straight through the middle with nothing sticking to it.
It’s difficult to find something else to say about the film, because there’s not much content to comment on. The film was blasted for being derivative of other films and a box office bomb, making nowhere near its budget upon release. However, I don’t think it’s all bad: sure, it has no substance, but it’s paced well, and maintains its momentum and energy through to make it a pretty entertaining film with no lulls. R.I.P.D. is the epitome of mindless cinematic entertainment that brings nothing new or significant to the table, but a short bit of fun if you’re in the mood.