How many death jokes fit in a review? Let’s begin with this one: R.I.P.D. needs to be taken out back and shot. R.I.P.D. should be the final nail in the coffin of the buddy-cop movie genre which has gotten worse and worse over the last few years.
Adapted from Peter M. Lenkov’s Rest in Peace Department comic book, R.I.P.D. centres on the partnering of recently-deceased Boston police officer Nick Walker (Ryan Reynolds) with Wild West sheriff Roycephus Pulsipher (Jeff Bridges) to arrest “deados” — souls that haven’t passed on — though they more often shoot them with soul-erasing bullets.
Despite a cringe-worthy flash-forward montage and a monologue that breaks the fourth wall — which serves no purpose other than to prepare audiences for how lifeless this movie is — there are a few short moments at the beginning of R.I.P.D. when the movie appears to take itself seriously, beginning with a regular morning in Walker’s life. That is until Walker stands up to his corrupt partner over some stolen gold and bites the bullet from his best friend’s gun. Once dead, the whole film quickly begins to decay.
By the time Walker has floated towards the heavens and been press-ganged into the undead police department, rigor mortis has set in and there’s no resuscitating this corpse.
What comes after is a shambling remake of Men in Black with zombies.
The movie is self-absorbed, bloated and putrefied.
Like this review, it gets caught up in making continually bad jokes and only a few come close to being witty. Too much time is spent trying to charm the audience with witticisms about Roy’s decades-old corpse being eaten by coyotes. Very little time is spent attempting to suspend the audience’s disbelief.
Unable to provide a smart crime drama, the movie quickly transitions into an action comedy with increasingly absurd fight scenes that continue to disregard the fictional world’s own rules, sacrificing coherence for overly dramatic CGI sequences.
By the time the final battle commences and Boston is being sucked into the afterlife, any attempt at structure or reasoning has jumped out the window. There is no reason why the deados are doing what they are doing. Any plot that existed is effectively braindead and what’s left is a simple need to produce mass destruction for an audience that has watched New York and Metropolis be destroyed in other films this year.
The worst part about R.I.P.D. is that, at various moments throughout the film, it’s obvious that the movie could have been decent, if not good. But by not seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, the movie ties the noose around its own neck by not taking itself seriously. Instead R.I.P.D. feels like a failed attempt to make a bad movie that audiences could enjoy for being so incredibly bad. But R.I.P.D. can’t even be hate-watched — the movie just flatlines.