If there’s one film that I was could care less about this summer it would be Universal’s poorly-marketed supernatural action/comedy R.I.P.D., starring Jeff Bridges and Ryan Reynolds. The Men in Black-looking film sold audiences nothing in the trailer, aside from Bridges reusing his True Grit persona, while Reynolds tries his hardest to remain relevant in Hollywood. Yet against all of the odds the film comes out a winner, surprising me with a fun story, fast and fluid camerawork and a pair of actually good performances from Reynolds and Bridges.
Nick (Ryan Reynolds) is a cop… or should I say was one. He’s recently deceased and immediately transported to the afterlife, where he can either accept a position on the Rest in Peace Department or face judgment with the man upstairs. If he serves his time he’ll have another shot back in the real world and if he refuses he has the possibility of getting sent straight to Hell.
He accepts and is teamed up with old-school lawman Roy (Jeff Bridges). Roy is a grumpy old-timer from the 1800’s that doesn’t believe in having a partner, because the only person that he trusts is himself.
Together, the two must work as a team to track down these mysterious gold pieces that the “Deados” have been drawn to. Oh, a Deado is something that has passed away, but is still stuck on Earth. It is the R.I.P.D.’s responsibility to capture, bring in or kill the Deados to maintain the balance on Earth.
If you sighed at any point while reading that last line then I can already tell you that you’re not going to like Robert Schwentke‘s R.I.P.D. The film operates within its own boundaries and if you’re willing to accept them then you just might find yourself having a really good time at the theater.
R.I.P.D. is the type of film that has absolutely no problem with being all-out silly with its action and the general way it carries itself through its brisk running time. Dialogue is rarely spoken seriously and instead delivered with lots of smiles and quick wit. I wouldn’t call it the dumbest movie of the summer, but it’s also far from smart. It’s just a fun film that wastes not a single second on something that won’t stick.
The film’s serious parts are established with enough background comedy to make everything work and the action seriously has no boundaries as characters climb on the side of buildings and leave a path of destruction around almost every city corner. The best thing about it? Nothing is done with an overly serious tone. Everything is kept light and fun and always entertaining.
Jeff Bridges initially looked like he was stuck in True Grit mode from the film’s first trailer, but once seen in action you’ll soon realize that his shtick is perfect for the film. Roy is an old-time lawman from the 1800’s that speaks with not a shred of common sense, but yet backs up everything he claims is true with his pistol. He works as one of those characters that’s either the smartest guy in the room or the dumbest. We never quite figure it out and that doesn’t matter one bit, because Bridges is a riot and strikes comedic gold more times than I’d care to admit.
Ryan Reynolds plays off Bridges’ drier humor with his quick reactions and constant sarcasm. Reynolds hasn’t done much lately, yet R.I.P.D. shows that he hasn’t let his past box office bombs hold him down.
One of the film’s least-marketed characters just so happens to be one of the film’s brightest moments. I’m talking about Kevin Bacon‘s Hayes. I can’t describe the character much without possibly ruining some of the film’s plot, especially since I don’t recall ever seeing his name pop up in the advertising, but I can say that Bacon is channeling one of his best modes that he rarely plays. Bacon is the perfect balance to Bridges and Reynolds and by that I mean he provides just as many laughs, but his come from a much darker place.
R.I.P.D. is the most unlikely good movie of the summer. It was basically dumped by Universal last minute, which is never a good sign for anyone, yet it surprised the hell out of me. Robert Schwentke‘s direction is fast and fluid, almost always shifting angles and focus every few minutes, which makes the 3D work to the film’s advantage, while also keeping up with the film’s high-energy pacing and general atmosphere.
R.I.P.D. is a film that moves a mile-a-minute. Sometimes that works in the film’s favor, with lots of action and comedy getting blended together almost seamlessly and sometimes that hurts the film, not allowing anything to really feel all that substantial or important.
That’s perfectly fine though, because R.I.P.D. functions as a quick and painless mid-summer romp to ease you through the giant wave of films that are getting slammed down into theaters. It also makes for a brief getaway from whatever daily troubles might be holding you down.
The film certainly looks like a Men in Black knockoff, but it actually has enough working for it to make it feel like its own “thing”. That may not sound like much of a compliment at all, but it really is. R.I.P.D. is the biggest surprise of the summer for me. It’s a film that I was ready to dismiss without much fuss, yet it had me laughing hard and clapping on more than one occasion. It’s a silly and strange beast that you just might enjoy.
R.I.P.D. – 7.5/10