Breaking Down the R.I.P.D.

16 Aug

By Ed Sum

Movie Poster

When good cops die, they do not necessarily go to Heaven. They have the option to join the Rest In Peace Department (R.I.P.D.) instead. For this film that is now out of the box office and heading to second tier theatres for a resurrection, the price of going to see this flick is not too bad.

Audiences can see how Boston cop Nick Walker (Ryan Reynolds) gets betrayed by his partner, Bobby Hayes (Kevin Bacon), over a bit of criminal activity that they think they can get away with, going to Hell is the last thing either of them have to worry about.

Walker gets a chance to do what is right in the afterlife before moving on. But when he gets paired with Roy Pulsipher (Jeff Bridges), a U.S. Marshal from the 1800’s, he gets a chance to “redeem” himself. But in what he discovers back on Earth is a convoluted plot that almost sounds like a quest for Montezuma’s gold. There is no curse attached to this treasure, but there might be one when considering the lead actor’s perchance for appearing in the comic book films.

Reynolds has had a bad run of starring in poorly done films inspired by comics lately. It all started with X-Men Origins: Wolverine, continued with Green Lantern and went nowhere with R.I.P.D.  Now the bigger question is how well the next film, Deadpool, he is attached to be in will perform.

This Canadian born actor can appear in good films. The irony is that the animated products he is in fare better than his live-action material. Maybe that’s because those stories are far more engaging. The Men in Black this film is not. Walker is not being groomed by Pulsipher and nor is he out to mete out alien justice. This movie feels more like Ghostbusters meets Jonah Hex.

The closest thing Walker is after is to earn good karma. At the start of the film, he thought about keeping the gold he and his partner discovered during a drug bust. But when that treasure turns out to be part of a magical item that can transport the dead back to Earth, the new plot direction does not contribute much to the overall story at all. Instead, it just marks this film as a Wierd West type of tale. Instead of the 1800’s, everything takes place in modern times.

Jeff Bridges

Jeff Bridges modestly steals the show with his reprisal of playing an old coot. He gets to show his “true grit” one more time. He’s more interesting to watch than Reynolds, and to see him paired up with Reynolds is akin to putting a sapling apple to an overripe orange together.

The humor of showing how they look like to other people in the living world just gets missed. When these side-performers do not get much of a speaking role, that’s where the movie fails. Most of the film drags along instead of being action-paced. The dramatic subplot of Walker trying to reconnect with his life upon returning to Earth just does not work. Had more of this cop’s past life been established more, then maybe viewers would connect with it. Instead, it feels disjointed, ripped apart. Without enough foundation to this lesser tale, nobody can really care about it.

Maybe if a bulk of this movie’s fat was trimmed, then the time spent to watch this film would have felt more satisfactory.

2 Stars out of 5

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