Matt Adcock’s film review: R.I.P.D. is initially attractive but doesn’t really spell out success

“They look like regular people, but they’re monsters inside. You see, if you slip through the cracks, and stay on Earth after you die, your soul rots. They rot, the world rots. Global warming, plague, bad cell reception – the dead are responsible.”

By The Newsroom
Monday, 23rd September 2013, 6:16 am
RIPD with Jeff Bridges and Ryan Reynolds
RIPD with Jeff Bridges and Ryan Reynolds

Imagine the situation – you’ve just died, having been shot in the face by your supposed best friend/cop partner, and find yourself ascending through the sky to the afterlife.

But before you hit the pearly gates you are whisked into an sterile white office to meet a stern-faced woman named Mildred Proctor (Mary-Louise ‘Saved!’ Parker). It turns out that she’s the director of the Boston division of the Rest In Peace Department, a specialist after-life agency that recruits deceased police officers to capture ‘deados’ – the spirits that fail to cross over and return to Earth as monstrous ghosts.

You don’t need to imagine it, though, because this is exactly what happens to Detectives Nick Walker (Ryan ‘Green Lantern’ Reynolds) who is double-crossed and killed by his partner Bobby Hayes (Kevin ‘I Sold My Soul To Advertise Mobile Phones’ Bacon) over some stolen gold they found during a drug bust.

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As he’s a little worried that he might not make it into eternal paradise thanks to some of his dodgy dealings on earth, Nick agrees to join the R.I.P.D. after Proctor explains that service can potentially make up for a negative final judgment and it’s ‘only’ for a 100 year tour of duty.

Nick gets saddled with a grizzled partner, Roy Pulsipher (Jeff ‘True Grit’ Bridges), a marshal from the Wild West days who has closure issues thanks to his body having been ravaged by coyotes.

From then on it’s like a kind of mash up of Ghostbusters, Men In Black and Lethal Weapon – except that R.I.P.D. isn’t even half as good as any of them.

It’s based on a comic book by Peter M. Lenkov and sounds appealing, but just doesn’t work very well on the big screen.

There’s nothing particularly wrong and there are some good funny moments, mostly based around the duo’s altered perceptions – for some reason, Nick appears to the living as an elderly Chinese man (James Hong), whereas Roy is a very sexy blonde Russian woman (Marisa Miller).

But the action is weak and the tone wildly uneven, with very adult jokes thrown in to a 12 certificate film that the trailers make look like a family action romp. Destined to be forgotten quickly, despite a great cast and fun premise.