R.I.P.D. stands for Rest In Peace Department. If this name doesn’t warn you as to how ridiculous this movie is, then I suggest you not see it at all. There is nothing going for it; not the visual effects, not the story, not the action, not the morals, not even Jeff Bridges. Nothing. It is a poorly constructed movie, centred on poorly conceived situations and characters, and the result is equally poor.
It seeks to be the new Men In Black — a sophisticated buddy cop movie that revolves around visual effects and pitch perfect comedic timing — but falls short on every turn. And that’s a big shame, because Jeff Bridges, Kevin Bacon, and Marie-Louise Parker are acting in it. Yes, I know they’re not usually associated with comedy, but they have the credentials and the experience. They have been chucked into a movie that knows nothing of comedic timing, and it shows. And then when you throw Ryan Reynolds into the mix, the screws come out and everything falls apart.
Reynolds is a victim of the Ryan Duplicate Syndrome, a condition that dictates that actors named Ryan have to, and will, look exactly the same in every movie. Don’t believe me? Just check out a few of his other movies and you’ll see what I mean. Not enough? Check out the movies of Ryan Gosling too. They do not change. It is like the components that form their faces and heads must be untouched and free from any sort of make up. Their hair is pristine and consistent. The characters they play may alter slightly, but never enough to make us go “Holy crap! Is that Ryan Reynolds?!”. So if you’ve seen Reynolds in previous movies, you will know exactly what to expect from him here, and he doesn’t fail to deliver.
He plays Nick Walker, a Boston Police detective who is betrayed and killed by his partner, Bobby (Kevin Bacon). While his soul travels through an afterlife tunnel that leads, I’m presuming, to Hell, he is sucked out and thrown into the R.I.P.D. We know what it stands for, but what does it do exactly? Well, I can’t promise you that I know the answer. It’s a police force of some sort, made up of dead sheriffs and detectives and cops, who patrol the Earth in avatars, keeping the “Deados” at bay. “What are Deados?” I hear you ask. I’m not quite sure either. They’re souls that have somehow chosen to remain on Earth, and when they reveal themselves, they become smelly, gnarly abominations with eyes on their foreheads and mouths larger than Julia Roberts’. They, no doubt, are troublemakers, so the R.I.P.D. is tasked with keeping them in check. “Since members of the R.I.P.D. are already dead, how long is their service?” I hear you ask again. Well, the movie says it’s a flat rate of one hundred years, but if you mess up, your term can be extended indefinitely. So, really, it could be an eternity. “What happens to your soul when your service is over?” Beats me. You go to Hell, probably. Which means that anyone who dies, good or not, is condemned.
Sounds bleak? Well, the entire movie is bleak. In many other movies we are bombarded by exposition from characters who have no idea what’s going on. Exposition is good, to a point. We need it to understand the fundamentals of the story; what sets it up, where it leaves us at the beginning, and where the story is headed. Too much exposition, and the movie becomes boring. We feel violated in some way; like the filmmakers have doubted our ability to decipher metaphors and puzzles. Too little exposition, and we are lost, not because we are unintelligent, but because nothing makes sense. This is how I felt while watching R.I.P.D. Nothing makes sense, because no one takes the time to explain it to us. We are thrown into a world of the undead, of golden obelisks and clandestine teleportation, but all the characters care about are their egos, their wives, their lovers, their looks, and the bad guys. They drive and run around like headless chickens without stopping to wonder if we are able to catch up with them. But nah, I wouldn’t want to catch up with them. Their dialogue is too nonsensical, the visual effects are horrendous, and they don’t know a good joke from a bad one. Men In Black has survived three movies. R.I.P.D. should consider suicide.
Best Moment | When the end credits start to roll. I kinda liked them.
Worst Moment | Meh. All of it.