Film reviews

#575 – R.I.P.D. 2: Rise of the Damned (2022)

R.I.P.D. 2: Rise of the Damned (2022)

Film review #575

Director: Paul Leyden

SYNOPSIS: Sherriff in the Old West Roeciphus Pulsipher is gunned down and killed in a shootout with some outlaws. Before he can proceed to the after life, he is recruited by the Rest in Peace Department (R.I.P.D.) to hunt down souls that have not departed from the Earth. “Roy” is partnered with veteran officer Jeanne to investigate a disturbance that could put the whole of humanity at risk…

THOUGHTS/ANALYSIS: R.I.P.D. 2: Rise of the Damned is a 2022 film. Despite what the name implies, the film is not a sequel, but a prequel to the 2013 film R.I.P.D., in which we see the story of how veteran officer Roeciphus “Roy” Pulsipher joined the department. The film is set in the Old West, where Roy is killed in a shootout with a local outlaw gang. He is recruited by the Rest in Police Department (R.I.P.D.) to deal with souls called “Deados” who have remained on Earth after death and must be sent to the afterlife. Roy is teamed up with another officer, Jeanne, to investigate an increase in strange activity. If you watched the first film, you’ll know exactly what to expect from this film, because it is basically the same plot: rookie and veteran partner up to stop the souls of the dead from returning to Earth. However, unlike the first film, which was still entertaining by just rushing through the film and relying on constant action and strong character performances, R.I.P.D. 2 doesn’t even have that, and the film stumbles along without any real energy or appeal. It doesn’t expand on the world or the lore in any way, it doesn’t reveal anything new about the characters, it’s just a completely recycled product with all the good stuff thrown out.

The only returning character from the first film is Roy, who was played by Jeff Bridges in the original, is played here by Jeffrey Donovan (obviously Bridges would have been a bit too pricey for this low-budget prequel). While I see a lot of praise for Donovan’s performance, I just didn’t see it. In his defence, it might just be the awful script and writing that is giving him stunted dialogue and interactions, which is certainly feasible, as the characters interact rather clumsily. Jeanne ‘s characters is very much a typical “veteran cop,” and the French accent gives it away that she is meant to be Joan of Arc fairly early, although the film “reveals” it a lot later (although I’m not sure if it is meant to be obvious, because the writing doesn’t indicate it). Despite her being a famous historical figure, it doesn’t fails to add anything to the film or her character. Following the lore of the film, Roy and Joan look completely different to living people so they can’t be recognised, and are given the appearance of two black women. This does present an opportunity for the film to address the racism and status of black people in the Old West, but the film chooses to play it safe and does the bare minimum with it. If they’re not going to address the topic, they might as well just not bothered having it as a plot point at all.

Every establishing shot in the film gives away that everything is a set devoid of substance beyond the camera. The effects are plain, and nothing stands out to make things interesting. The ending wraps things up in a roundabout way and addresses issues that I didn’t realise were an issue (who actually shot Roy or something). Overall, you’re not going to get anything out of this film that the original, and is far inferior in every way. Everything about the film feels cheap and uninspired, and the things that made the original entertaining are absent. Releasing ten years after the original as well means that the opportunity to ride the hype of its predecessor is long gone, leaving it alone and essentially dead on arrival.