What do you get when you mash up a classic buddy cop duo film with some sci-fi supernatural elements and the director of a comic book spin-off film? You get R.I.P.D. which is basically like Men In Black, Ghostbusters and aforementioned director’s comic film Red but sadly doesn’t come anywhere near the quality of any of those. When I saw the trailer my immediate reaction was “I hope this is going to be one of those it’s so bad that it’s good films” and I was left pretty disappointed.
The concept was pretty ambitious, two formerly deceased police officers from different time eras are reincarnated to keep the unruly dead souls from running amok on earth. When a supposedly ancient staff or weapon or some such that can rain down all those unruly dead souls and give them free reign on our planet falls into the wrong hands they need to stop it. There are several gripes I have with the plot and the narrative. Firstly the pacing is slow, we’re not given any sort of real imperative drama until a little over halfway into the film when the weapon-staff-thing is finally revealed. If you wanted to get philosophical you could begin to ask all these questions about spirituality and reincarnation and is the Rest In Peace Department really just purgatory since it basically looks like an oversized office department with mindless reincarnated souls milling about doing their reaping work coz sometimes my dayjob feels like that?
Ryan Reynolds’ Nick isn’t exactly Mr Squeaky Clean Cop we discover, and this along with Reynolds’ portrayal just didn’t win me over. In the moments where I’m meant to particularly feel emotionally invested in him and his plight is when I felt bored. There wasn’t even any gratuitous shirtless Reynolds to distract me either (so clearly there’s nothing in the film for the ladies). Jeff Bridges on the other hand was really the only saving grace, his cliché American-Western-cowboy-sheriff cop from the 1800’s with Stetson and curly goatee and ridiculous accent that was so thick you could barely understand half of what he’s saying. I found myself laughing at appropriate and inappropriate times because of his OTT character Roy because he’s basically an amplified parody.
Director Robert Schwentke does manage to score some brownie points with his inventive use of 360 degree camera angles. There’s a lot of spinning, flipping, from the ground looking up and from the sky looking down going on here. The 3D aspects of the film are even more enhanced with all these tricky camera angles, so it does make for some exciting visuals. Personally though, as somebody who barely registers 3D effects due to a vision impairment, I’d rather production companies ditch the 3D thing altogether but that’s just me. The soundtrack was pretty funny too with some bizarre song choices, and included a Jeff Bridges penned and performed number called “The Better Man” which not only makes a brief and emotionally moving moment in the film but also is the number played whilst the credits roll at the end.
All in all though, the good things in this film were not enough to save it from its own mediocrity. I won’t deny that there were some genuinely funny bits in the film but not enough to make it a proper comedy, and the action sequences were so over the top and CGI heavy that it made it impossible to feel real. I think I’ll just go pop on my copy of Men In Blacknow.
Review Score: ONE AND A HALF STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
R.I.P.D. is now showing in cinemas through Universal Pictures Australia