Review – R.I.P.D. (2013)

Director: Robert Schwentke

Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Jeff Bridges, Kevin Bacon, Mary-Louise Parker, Stephanie Szostak, Marisa Miller, James Hong

RIPDR.I.P.D. is the ‘new’ movie from Universal which you can’t help but feel like you’ve seen before. While it is, like every second aspiring blockbuster these days, an adaptation of a graphic novel, most viewers will recognise it as some combination of Men in Black and Ghostbusters with a little bit of Ghost tossed in for romantic interest.

The R.I.P.D. is the Rest in Peace Department, a team of elite but deceased law enforcers from throughout history who are charged with tracking down ‘deados,’ individuals who have passed away but have somehow managed to avoid judgement and continue to live on Earth incognito. Nick is a young Boston Policeman who is killed in the line of duty only to be called up to the RIPD while seemingly on his way to a place he didn’t want to go. At R.I.P.D. he is partnered up with Wild West lawman, Marshall Roysephus Pulsipher, who will show him the ropes. But Nick has picked an unfortunate moment to start his new job, because the deados are planning something which could change the world forever.

The odd-couple pairing for a buddy cop movie doesn’t get more odd than a 21st century Boston cop and a 19th century Wild West Marshall, but the success of buddy cop comedies invariably comes down to chemistry and Reynolds and Bridges don’t seem to have it. Rather than playing the quick-talking, wise-cracking role Will Smith took opposite the stony-faced Tommy Lee Jones in Men in Black, Ryan Reynolds finds himself largely playing the straight man in this movie, with much of the (attempted) comedy coming from Bridges. The Academy Award winner – I feel it is appropriate to remind you at this point that Bridges does have an Oscar – appears to be enjoying himself playing for laughs as Roy, doing a hammier version of his Rooster Cogburn from True Grit with a drawl that is equally difficult to understand.

Familiarity isn’t necessarily a problem. One of the keys to the success of a blockbuster movie is striking the right balance of the familiar and the different. Audiences want to have a reasonable idea of what they’re getting themselves into. They want to recognise things – that is why people have favourite genres and favourite actors – and then they want to be surprised by the little ways in which this one is different. R.I.P.D. falls way too far on the familiar side of the ledger though. Everything from the premise and the characters to the storyline and the outcome feels generic and rehashed. While it can rustle up a few laughs and has its share of 3D CGI spectacle, it is largely pretty boring. You are always two steps ahead of this movie. You know what is going to happen because you’ve seen it all before.

Rating – ★★

Review by Duncan McLean

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