R. I. P. D. Review

Image for R. I. P. D.

When he’s killed by his partner, young cop Nick (Reynolds) begins his ascent to heaven. However, a misdemeanor in life means he’s assigned to God’s own police squad, the Rest In Peace Department, instead...


R.I.P.D. is a great idea that someone started but apparently neglected to finish. It’s a wonderful premise: upon death, history’s greatest lawkeepers are denied passage into heaven and instead returned to Earth to exact justice on undead criminals who refuse to leave the mortal realm. The pair of mismatched cops on whom we focus are played by Ryan Reynolds and Jeff Bridges, two actors who could be powerfully charismatic while unconscious. And Mary-Louise Parker and Kevin Bacon are somewhere in the mix. One can only imagine that a titanic effort was required to leach this combination of all joy and inspiration, but the R. I. P. D. team really pulled it off.

The fact that much of it is simply Men In Black with the word “aliens” replaced with “undead” isn’t the problem. The issue is that nothing lands nor connects with anything else. Everything’s chucked at the wall to see what sticks, and it all just slides listlessly down into a useless lump. There’s the most diaphanous wisp of a plot, with Reynolds’ murdered cop trying to atone for a mistake he didn’t fix in life and a scheme by the undead that hopefully makes sense to someone somewhere. On it goes, through routine action sequences and peculiar logic until eventually it’s just over.

Even the cast can’t breathe life into it. Reynolds does what he can with absolutely nothing, while Bridges goes full Johnny Depp. His Roy is an Old West lawman, cross with everything, speaking like he’s trying to swallow an orange and emoting like he’s breaking in a new face. He can’t be accused of not giving it his all, but when the words he says are inconsequential, it’s just a lot of noise.

The disappointment of R. I. P. D. is not entirely that it is generic and on the whole incomprehensible; it’s that there’s such a bounty here to work with. There’s so much wasted promise, it’s practically criminal.

Confusing and uninspired rather than completely inept, it’s still likely to be swiftly struck from the résumés of all involved.