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Film review: R.I.P.D.

Yvonne Teh

 

R.I.P.D.
Starring: Jeff Bridges, Ryan Reynolds, Kevin Bacon, Mary-Louise Parker
Director: Robert Schwentke
Category: IIA

 

In January last year, actor Ryan Reynolds went on the record (in an interview on Indiewire's The Playlist blog) to say that he hoped the supernatural action comedy he had been working on would become a franchise, so that he could appear in the sequels.

But it doesn't look like that this CGI-laden US$130 million production will be spawning any sequels. In fact, some might say that German director Robert Schwentke's adaptation of Peter M. Lenkov's 1999 Rest in Peace Department comic is pretty much dead on arrival.

R.I.P.D. has the way-too-bland Reynolds playing Nick Walker, a Boston detective who is double-crossed and killed off early in the film by his partner and supposed best friend, Bobby Hayes (an underused Kevin Bacon).

Shortly before that, Nick and Bobby had bowed to temptation and taken some gold they had come across during their police work. Because of this crime, Nick discovers, he will not be allowed to rest in peace. Instead, the slain cop is asked by the first person he meets in the afterlife, Boston R.I.P.D. bureau chief Proctor (Mary-Louise Parker), to decide between paying a penance of 100 years of service in the otherworldly police department, or face the prospect of being sent to hell.

On learning that working in the R.I.P.D. allows him to return to the realm of the living (and thereby a chance to see his wife (Stephanie Szostak), Nick agrees to sign up for 100 years of dealing with "Deados", monstrous souls who refuse to move peacefully to the other side.

The best part of R.I.P.D. is when the audience is given introductory glimpses of this strange world that Nick is now part of through his often bewildered eyes. The most inspired elements coming by way of veteran Asian-American actor James Hong and Sports Illustrated model Marisa Miller.

Surprisingly, it's Academy Award winner Jeff Bridges who turns in the worst performance of the film. After True Grit, one would have thought that he had nailed down the part of ornery Western lawman.

But Roy, the trigger-happy Old West sheriff that Nick gets assigned for a R.I.P.D. partner, is an annoying chatterbox whose patter often bogs down the film, and makes it literally yawn-inducing at times.

Take away the special effects and afterworld mumbo jumbo, and R.I.P.D. is essentially just another attempt at a buddy movie. Unfortunately, Reynolds and Bridges lack chemistry - the same way that Reynolds also pretty much fails to make sparks fly with Szostak.

The makers of this film should really have paid more attention to Men in Black, the hit sci-fi action comedy that this inane offering sometimes resembles, albeit as a ghostly pale imitation.

yvonne.teh@scmp.com

 

R.I.P.D. opens on August 1

 

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