Boston cop Nick (Ryan Reynolds) is murdered by his sleazebag partner (Kevin Bacon) after they stumble on a stash of gold. His spirit is sucked into the sky, presumably on its way to the great hereafter, but is intercepted by cosmic boss Proctor (Mary-Louise Parker), who runs the Rest In Peace Department, a sort-of FBI for the afterlife.
Its mission? To hunt down rogue ghosts and beasties, affectionately called “Deados”, when they escape into the land of the living.
Nick is assigned and partnered with Roy Pulsifer (Jeff Bridges), a scruffy Old West marshal, and they are sent back to Boston on a case that, naturally, finds Nick given the opportunity to settle some old scores.
If this all sounds very Ghostbusters-meets-Men In Black to you, well, it should. Despite its origins as a comic book (written by Demolition Man scripter Peter M. Lenkov, who serves as exec producer here), R.I.P.D. is one of the most derivative action-comedies in recent memory, with every gag, stunt and action sequence liberally pilfered from some other film.
As enjoyable as Bridges is here, he’s merely adding a comic twist on his True Grit character, and even the movie’s most novel idea – on Earth, Nick and Roy look respectively like an elderly Chinese man (Blade Runner/Big Trouble In Little China’s James Hong) and a blonde (Marissa Miller) – just serves as an unwanted reminder of Reynolds’ recent body-switch botch The Change-Up (2011).
With no originality to cling to, R.I.P.D. relies on spectacle. But its rampaging hulk monsters are boilerplate CGI, and watching Ryan Reynolds fall off a tall building and then dust himself off just isn’t all that enthralling.
Director Schwentke mined similar comics-to-screen mayhem with 2010’s superior RED, but clearly, he’s just running on fumes here. Perhaps some comic books should be left at the comic-book store.
Rampant CGI monsters, aggressive 3D and a fine cast – especially a likeably grizzly Jeff Bridges – still can’t bring this ho-hum Men In Black redux to life.