It’s never really a good sign when one of your principal leads, in this case Jeff Bridges, comes out and publicly puts their own film down – here saying the final cut left him feeling ‘underwhelmed’. Going by its critical drubbing, that was putting it mildly for most people, and although it is true the whole movie constantly has an air of ‘this could have been much better’ and there’s a definite feeling of flatness throughout, especially in the first half, I’ll throw the gauntlet down and say it’s actually still quite fun.
Bridges buddies up with Ryan Reynolds to play two dead cops, in the case of Reynolds one very recently deceased, who have been unwittingly selected by the celestial forces of heaven to join the R.I.P.D. (Rest In Peace Department) and hunt down the dead souls (or deados as they’re called, a word which I certainly hope enters into the common vernacular. It’s a hell of a lot better than recent lexical addition ‘double denim’, in fact maybe the two could be switched…) who have by hook or crook escaped judgement from the almighty and are currently hiding in human form on Earth. It is a pretty cool premise and it’s based on the graphic novel of the same name by Peter M. Lenkov, although it does come across as a little too similar to ‘Men in Black’ (97), especially in the beginning, but despite this one of the film’s biggest pluses is that it doesn’t waste any time – the story continues to unfold at a good pace, and so the similarities are quickly forgotten.
Gags feature prominently, and like everything else they usually work to at least some degree. Used time and again is the fact that the two main characters are given disguises, or ‘avatars’, once they’re returned to the land of the living – for Reynolds, an old Chinese man (James Hong), and Bridges, a tall hot blonde (Marisa Miller). It’s a nice touch. Kevin Bacon has another good turn as the bad guy (see 2010’s ‘Super’) but one of the film’s strengths is the commitment of Bridges, who was murdered way back in the old west and sports a pretty unique cowboy accent. It’s unique to the point of not being able to understand what he’s saying all the time (apparently the sound department had issues with this) but it still works well and adds a lot of flavour to both his character and the film. Mary-Louise Parker is also good in support.
Personally I hope they make another one – here’s a glimpse behind the scenes …