When crooked cop Nick Hayes (Ryan Reynolds) is double crossed and shot by his partner (Kevin Bacon) after they steal some gold discovered on duty, he proceeds to the afterlife where he is recruited by Director Proctor (Mary Louise-Parker) to the Rest In Peace Department. Partnered with Roy Pulsifer (Jeff Bridges), a gruff, curmudgeonly former US Marshal from the Civil War era, during a routine patrol they discover a suspect in possession of some familiar looking gold. As they continue to investigate, they uncover an ongoing conspiracy linked to the gold Nick and his partner planned to steal which aims to unleash Hell on Earth.
Poor Ryan Reynolds. He tries so hard. Hannibal King (“Blade: Trinity”), Deadpool (“X-Men Origins: Wolverine”), Hal Jordan (“Green Lantern”), his career is littered with almost-there genre characters and this bungled action comedy won’t change his fortunes any time soon. Jeff Bridges hams it up as Roy Pulsifer and seems to be having a good enough time that it almost – almost – becomes infectious. Mary-Louise Parker, on the other hand, is having a whale of a time as the frosty no-nonsense director of the Boston RIPD. Among the Earth-bound cast, Kevin Bacon is coasting here, giving a performance with less depth and effort than he’s currently giving EE to promote their UK 4G network.
Plot-wise, it’s such a transparent copy of “Men In Black” that it’s vaguely insulting (just swap aliens for dead people), the finale is taken almost beat for beat from “Ghostbusters” and the double crossing partner storyline comes straight from “Ghost”. There are flashes of originality, such as the idea that R.I.P.D. agents have avatars on Earth so they look different. Reynolds avatar is an old Asian man, played by James Hong while Pulsifer is disguised as a sexy blond played by Marisa Miller. It’s a great gag when it’s first revealed, unfortunately the film is unaware of the law of diminishing returns and flogs it to death. Although there’s enjoyment to be had from this movie, it’s mainly because it’ll bring back fond memories of the movies it shamelessly cribs from.
Director Robert Schwentke fails to bring the same energy and attitude he brought to “Red” to “R.I.P.D.” and although the leads gamely try to infuse some vitality into the proceedings, the action set pieces and plot developments feel stale and by-the-numbers. Given the talent involved, it’s hard to see this as anything but a formulaic disappointment.