Cast: Ryan Reynolds, Jeff Bridges, Mary Louise Parker, Kevin Bacon
Running time: 97mins
The lowdown: Ryan Reynolds is recently deceased cop Nick Walker, recruited into the R.I.P.D (Rest In Peace Department), an undead police force who guard the mortal world against Deados – criminal souls that refuse to cross over and hide out among the living. Nick is partnered with Jeff Bridges’ 19th century U.S Marshall Roy Pulsipher and together they uncover a diabolical scheme with world-ending implications. Despite the presence of Kevin Bacon on villain duty and Mary Louise Parker R.I.P.D can’t be resuscitated. Those hoping RED director Robert Schwentke can spirit up a fun, supernatural cop comedy will be badly served by this stale, incongruous mess. Cold Fuzz it ain’t.
The full verdict: Comic book adaptations can prove highly lucrative, but when the source material is little known and first published 10 years ago, there needs to be solid justification for bringing it to the big screen.
Dark Horse Comics’ R.I.P.D has all the elements required to make a successful transition but instead of using them to create a fresh, fully-realised world, we are given an exhumation of ideas we’ve seen before (Men In Black, Ghostbusters, Beetlejuice) minus the wit and originality which made them worth disinterring in the first place.
Any laughs come mainly from Bridges’ Roy, chewing and spitting out acerbic dialogue in a semi-coherent, molasses-thick drawl. He’s clearly having a blast and the movie sags further when he’s off-screen. Reynolds quips valiantly but sparks between him and Bridges fail to materialise.
The plot ricochets between clichéd and crazy in a rushed race to an anti-climactic Armageddon, leaving Parker’s division director with tortuous lines of exposition she delivers as if terminally bored.
R.I.P.D officers adopt human avatars to hide their identities from the living and there’s amusement to be had from the reactions to Nick’s elderly Chinese man (a bemused-looking James Hong) and Roy’s stunning blonde (model turned actress Marisa Miller). Although the latter’s musical cue of Marvin Gaye’s ‘Let’s Get It On’ proves tiresome on repetition.
The effects range from first rate to Second Life with multiple chase sequences varying in CGI quality and there’s more blood on the cutting room floor than remains in the movie.
Adult Swim posted a short animated prequel before release which proved a much more effective medium. On that evidence it’s not too late to resurrect the perished policemen in a cartoon series for the small screen but it needs to be done fast before rigor mortis sets in.