23rd Sep2013

‘R.I.P.D’ Review

by Ian Loring

Stars: Ryan Reynolds, Jeff Bridges, Mary-Louise Parker, Kevin Bacon, Stephanie Szostak, James Hong, Marisa Miller, Robert Knepper, Mike O’Malley, Devin Ratray | Written by Phil Hay, Matt Manfredi | Directed by Robert Schwentke

ripd-cast

The summer box office season may be over but one of the big casualties will be talked about for a while as along with White House Down and The Lone Ranger, R.I.P.D becomes the latest bomb to be whispered about in years to come. Just like both those films however, it’s far from the worst the Blockbuster season has had to offer.

Essentially a mashing together of Men In Black, Ghostbusters and Hellboy, R.I.P.D doesn’t do itself any favours in just how derivative and indistinct the premise is. Dead police officers recruited to protect the world of the living from the dead, the film sounds like a comic book and indeed is based on one and on this kind of a level, the film for the most part works. A vibe of “fun” is introduced early on and maintains itself for much of the runtime as Ryan Reynolds and Jeff Bridges team up in the 80′s buddy cop-comedy kind of way and go through the film running, jumping and making things explode with giant revolvers. This simplicity is at odds with some of the film’s plotting for sure, a moral conflict and romantic interest at the heart of Reynolds’ arc feels under-developed and out-of-place but when the film concerns itself with rampaging around, it’s somewhat hard to criticise it given how it does what it says on the tin in this regard.

Director Robert Schewntke certainly knows his way round cheographing this type of carnage too. With a budget which is probably too big for what the film actually is, he throws the camera around for dynamic “one-take” style action set-pieces with CG which has a rubbery, cartoony vibe which never feels photo-real but doesn’t seem to be aiming as such. This base level of “boom, smash, crash” is perfectly well-handled throughout and the films brief runtime does mean that it’s hard to get bored by what’s on offer here.

Helping this aspect are the two leads. Ryan Reynolds is doing his usual quippy thing but is elevated by the sheer strangeness of Jeff Bridges’ performance here. Essentially a “turned up to 11″ Rooster Cogburn, him staring at the majesty of a woman’s ankles and busting Reynolds’ balls every chance he gets keys into the fun vibe much of the film tries to adhere to. Mary Louise Parker and Kevin Bacon also certainly get the tone right throughout also, the latter’s inclusion providing further evidence as to the whole 1980′s inspired vibe of the film.

R.I.P.D is like one of its protagonists, a film rather out of its own time. If it was made 25 years ago, had practical make-up effects and was of a much more controlled budget, it would likely be remembered with fondness today. As it is, the film is too expensive and too messy with its narrative to really”fit” with the big-budget cinema of today but there’s a fair bit of charm to be had if you’re willing to adjust your expectations accordingly.

R.I.P.D is in cinemas across the UK now.

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