R.I.P.D. (2013)

Ryan Reynolds continues his quest to undermine the stability of comic book movies in this adaptation of Peter M. Lenkov’s 2001 Dark Horse Comics release. Despite being a fairly forgettable jaunt into cod occultism and action movie cliches, someone clearly thought that this warranted the sort of care and attention reserved for first tier Marvel titles. They were wrong.

Billed as a supernatural action-adventure, R.I.P.D. follows recently deceased cop Nick as he is forced to join the Rest In Peace Department as penance for being marginally crooked while he was alive. Nick is partnered with a wild west gunman named Roysifus Pulcifer and begins pounding a beat on the streets of New England putting ‘deados’ back in their place. It doesn’t take long before Nick and Roy stumble onto a plot to, like, open a portal to the afterlife or something. Yawn.

R.I.P.D. seems to have been compiled from a tombola filled with movie titles. While Men in Black and Ghostbusters bear the brunt, it bears uncanny similarity to the Treat Williams and Joe Piscopo zom-com, Dead Heat. The writers also preyed upon the likes of Constantine, Beetlejuice, 48 Hours, among others. There are so few original ideas at play in here that it almost runs like a clip show – The Greatest Hits of Supernatural and Buddy Cop Movies. Granted, one core idea that is only vaguely familiar has some mileage in the second act but quickly got old, only to be temporarily saved by the sagging face of James Hong. Nearly 10 years on from Stephen Sommers’ CGI bloat-fest Van Helsing and it seems that no one thought to inform Robert Schwentke of its mistakes. The effects would look pretty great if this movie was a collection of stills – a comic, maybe? – but any instance requiring the deados to not stand perfectly still and the ineptitude of their design becomes apparent.

Performances are next to non-existent, with the exception of Jeff Bridges clearly having fun subverting his recent proclivity for cowboy roles. He manages to be the most enjoyable thing in the movie, gurning and mugging his way through some olde timey cowpoke speak. Kevin Bacon must have spent all of that EE money, because all he seems to be doing here is cashing another cheque. Even the mystifying charisma of Ryan Reynolds is lacking as he stands around looking bored between grimaces.

It isn’t that R.I.P.D. is boring – it’s actually a fast-paced ride through some fun set-pieces – the problem is that there is almost nothing new or interesting on offer. Most of the visuals are well realised and rich, unsurprising as the DoP that wowed us with Sunshine, Alwin H. Kuchler, handles cinematography here. The gun battles are fast, energetic and coherent, which is surprising for this type of flick. Viewers in the early teens might find this a perfectly fine movie watching experience, but anyone else will see that R.I.P.D. is just flogging an undead horse.

Rating: ★★★★½☆☆☆☆☆

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