Rating: 0.5 stars out of 5
First things first, and this is directed towards everyone with high to moderate expectations of this film from trailers and hype, this film is nothing like‘Men In Black’.
But don’t heave those sighs of relief yet if you’re one of those cynics worrying about a copycat effort. Perhaps this film could’ve saved its own skin if it followed the winning ‘MIB’ formula more closely, or the formula of any entertaining film for that matter, because this film lacks it completely.
The premise of the film lies on life after death, and for dedicated cop Nick Walker (Ryan Reynolds) who suddenly dies while chasing a lead, this involves him being roped into the Rest In Peace Department (‘R.I.P.D.’) before facing judgment from the divine Almighty.
As nonchalantly explained by a snooty and deadpan commanding officer played by Mary-Louise Parker, the RIPD is an afterlife police force tasked to capture ghosts who have fled from their day of judgment and are hiding out amongst common mortal folk.
Walker takes this all in remarkably well (for someone who just died) and is paired with seasoned cowboy Roy Pulsipher (Jeff Bridges), the latter naturally being reluctant to take on the green rookie.
Jeff Bridges and Ryan Reynold play ghost cops and robbers
So here you have a partnership of enforcers consisting of an old geezer and a young wisecrack, fancy guns and gadgets, an enormous secret base kept hidden from view, and enemies disguised as humans. Sounds like ‘MIB’ doesn’t it? Wrong.
For one, unlike their Jay and Kay counterparts, Walker and Pulsipher have zero chemistry. Their constant bickering about upping one another simply falls on deaf ears. There is neither wit nor humour, and even where the film attempts its more “serious” moments with the confession of each other’s pasts, its significance is as awkward as a chirping cricket.
And it doesn’t help that individually, they are extremely weak characters. Nick Walker is a typical gung-ho cop made worse by Reynolds’ stiff and forgettable acting. Even for Bridges, despite earning an Oscar nomination for previously playing a cowboy in ‘True Grit’, his role as Western-slanged Roy Pulsipher comes off as excessive, cheesy, and even slightly annoying.
It was likely that the emptiness of its characters was something the filmmakers foresaw, so they figured they’d get some laughs from the audience with the avatars, alternate appearances of RIPD officers as seen by the public eye. Hence to everyone else in the world around them, Walker is portrayed as a Chinese grandpa (James Hong) and Pulsipher as a seductive bombshell (Marisa Miller).
Even we have to admit that at first glance, the odd combination is chuckle-inducing. But the gag quickly gets tiresome, and no amount of rehashed Oriental accents and stripper music saves it from becoming stale.
The only saving grace of the film comes from its special effects. Though these same special effects may easily sway viewers the other way, especially if they don’t have the stomach for it.
While leaping off skyscrapers and inter-dimensional wormholes are spectacular to watch, the gruesome transformation of ghosts from their human forms to their true monstrous selves is distasteful. There’s a fine line between having effects which are ugly and unwatchable, but this film somehow manages to blend the two together, something that would make viewers stomp out of the cinema in disgust and boredom.
Like all comic adaptations, the extreme campiness that comes from this film’s plot and concept can be forgiven to a small extent. But this is no ‘Sin City’ or ‘Kick-Ass’, this is a campiness that won’t turn this film into a cult classic years from now, just another box-office stinker.