I can think of no other way to say it, so I’m just going to say it as plain as I can: R.I.P.D. is not a very good film. Not even Jeff Bridges (starring as a long-dead lawman named Roy) can save this mess. In fact, Bridges gives what is his worst performance in years in the box office dud.
R.I.P.D., available now on Blu-ray, is based on a Dark Horse comic book series by Peter M. Lenkov, and the concept seems more suited for a comic book or for a smaller and more niche movie rather than a $130 million mainstream blockbuster effort.
Ryan Reynolds plays Nick, a cop with a loving wife who made the mistake of stealing some gold with his partner (Kevin Bacon). Before Nick can redeem himself, his partner shoots and kills him, and Nick ends up being recruited into the RIPD. Since Nick was on his way down under, the RIPD (rest in peace department) intervenes and offers him salvation for 100 years of service. Their only job is to capture so called “deados.” These are dead people that are somehow still remaining on and cursing the Earth.
It all sounds very goofy, and it doesn’t play any different on screen. Believe me. What makes R.I.P.D. not work is tone. Directer Robert Schwentke is working from a script that clearly passed through a lot of hands (credited are a total of three people). The script never knows what direction to take the movie in. The story called for a quirky and strange tale that danced to the tune of its own drummer, but instead we get a mismatched execution because everybody wants to make a big popcorn movie that appeals to all. This story does not provide that kind of material.
The flick can’t figure out if it is a comedy or a dark supernatural film about the themes of dying far too soon. The shifts in tone are unnatural and drastic. Schwentke never makes them work. We go from watching Nick try to hold onto his old life to watching him chasing down a cartoony “deado” to get some kind of gold that will open a portal between this world and the afterlife. This movie wants it both ways. It wants to be a dark film about a cop trying to atone for his sins and contact his wife, and it also wants to be a goofy comedy in the vein of Men in Black.
This, however, is not even close to Men in Black. This movie’s special effects are essentially cartoons and there’s very few funny moments because every scene feels uneven and wrong. R.I.P.D. could have worked had the budget been lowered, the scope been roped in and Schwentke and the screenwriters allowed to examine the darker elements of the story both in the comedy and the drama. Alas, they are not and what we are left with is a giant, useless movie that wasted way too much money for what it is.
There’s a reason I haven’t mentioned Bridges yet. I was hoping to avoid him altogether, but I suppose it must be addressed. He plays Roy here, and it’s his worst performance to date. I suppose he’s properly hamming it up with a very strange accent, but watching him phone it in as this character is sad. He’s done so many great films and created so many amazing characters.
The performance would’ve worked if the film let him loose, but as is it is just a strange performance in a not strange enough movie.
The special features are much more interesting than the movie itself. There’s motion comic feature that shows you some of the differences between the comic and movie as well as a couple alternate openings and deleted scenes. If you were one of the few people that liked this movie then the Blu-ray edition is worth checking out.
You can tell everyone probably had fun making R.I.P.D. and probably wanted to make the best movie possible, but the call to turn this story into a wannabe blockbuster was the straw that broke the camel’s back.