RIPD Review: Dead on Arrival
In RIPD, Ryan Reynolds plays Nick, a Boston police officer who gives into temptation at the wrong time. He and his partner, Hayes (Kevin Bacon) take some gold that only they know about from a crime scene. Nick eventually decides he’s going to turn it in, but before he can do that, he’s killed on the job and is recruited into the Rest In Peace Department, deferring his personal judgment day for a hundred years. He’s not happy about being dead or joining the RIPD and neither is Roycephus (Jeff Bridges), a veteran RIPD officer who ends up being Nick’s partner. Roy is from the Old West, and he’s constantly complaining about the coyotes and vultures and other desert critters that ate his corpse and dragged his bones away into caves. It’s one of the bits in the movie that worked well for me. Roy isn’t really a new character for Jeff Bridges, if he had an eyepatch he’d be easily mistaken for Bridge’s character from True Grit.
Nick is more interested in keeping an eye on the wife he left behind than doing his job, which is catching deados, people who are trying to escape judgment for their bad lives by staying on earth. The deados look like regular people, until they ‘pop,’ which turns them into CGI monsters. Roy and Ryan accomplish ‘popping’ deados by various methods, most of which involve food in some capacity.
The officers of the RIPD don’t look to normal mortals like they did in life. Nick looks like an older Chinese man (James Hong), while Roy looks like a supermodel (Marisa Miller.) There are a few jokes about this in the movie and some bits based on it, but they’re all the same joke essentially, so it never really gathers any comedic steam.
Roy and Nick are already dead, so all sorts of awful things can happen to them without causing permanent injury. They’re kind of like cartoon characters, surviving falling from great heights, getting smushed by cars or run over by buses. The deados are at an extreme disadvantage against the RIPD, because the good guys have bullets that erase what they hit from existence, as long as it’s a head shot. Roy is superbly better at this than Nick, and you get the feeling that his targets in the Old West landed more often on the dead side of Dead or Alive.
There’s no denying the similarities to movies like Men in Black, but RIPD was originally a comic book published by Dark Horse Comics, home of Hellboy. While Hellboy has done well with its movies, RIPD isn’t faring nearly so well, perhaps because its fan base is smaller and the comic is generally less well known. The RIPD Universe is well established in the film, even though it’s essentially a Heavenly police precinct, including upper brass known as Eternal Affairs.
Ryan Reynolds plays essentially the same smartass that he does in most of his other movies, so he really doesn’t have to do any heavy acting. What’s different is that in the partnership between Nick and Roy, he’s the straight man most of the time.
RIPD isn’t a bad film, but it’s not a great one either. It’s too much like what we’ve seen before. This is clearest in the plot, which boils down to ‘We Must Close the Portal!’ I’m getting fatigued with that particular ending, especially since it’s becoming the default for summer blockbusters. This is disappointing because you figure out pretty quickly how things are going to end, and the exact method is clumsily telegraphed in the beginning of the last fight sequence.
I don’t remember anything about the RIPD comic really, so I can’t even say if it’s a good representation, but it doesn’t really matter much, as I doubt we’ll see any sequels ever.
Here’s the trailer: