The second best thing about the summer (a distant 2nd, at that, to swimming) is the proliferation of comic-book-to-movie films, many of them, like RIPD, destined for critical ridicule and financial failure.
Taken as an excuse to check one’s brain at the popcorn stand for an hour and a half, it really ain’t half-bad. Its major problems are a thin script and an overall feeling of being derivative. Think shuffling a deck of GHOST BUSTERS, MEN IN BLACK, BLADE RUNNER and HELL BOY concepts and you’ve got RIPD. It’s really not a bad recipe, but once you start thinking deja vu, it kind of snowballs, like seeing Jeff Bridges as Rooster Cogburn (TRUE GRIT) instead of Roy Pulsipher; seeing Kevin Bacon as Sesbastian Shaw (X-MEN: FIRST CLASS) instead of Bobby Hayes; and seeing Ryan Reynolds as just about any other character he’s ever played in his always reliably interchangeable roles instead of Nick Walker.
It’s a fun little comic-book interpretation, akin to so many others doomed to failure (think ULTRA VIOLET or HOWARD THE DUCK—also fun in their own warped ways,) with a lot of cop buddy-flick banter—“Roysephus is really your name? Sounds like an STD to me.” Mary-Louise Parker, as delightful as ever, plays their boss, and Roy’s angry love interest. The gist of things is the Ryan Reynolds character is murdered by his partner, winds up having to serve a century on the RIPD to avoid going to Hell for being a dirty cop, gets partnered with a crazy19th century sheriff who looks a lot like Wild Bill Hickok (also once played by Jeff Bridges in 1995,) and together they are expected to prowl the earth arresting (or terminating) deados—recently deceased humans masquerading as the living.
The deados, as a rule, give themselves away by the entropy field which surrounds them that tends to destroy objects with which they come in contact—too many deados among the living at one time and the whole world will disintegrate. They also have an aversion/allergy to cumin, which strips away their living-guise and reveals something truly monstrous beneath. There’s also this ancient artifact, which the Bacon character is attempting to assemble that will reverse the direction the dead take when they croak, sure to destroy the world. Oh yeah, the cops appear as something else (a well endowed super model and a little old Chinaman) to everybody else, which actually does get real annoying real soon.
So, it’s pretty thin stuff, with lots of mildly decent CGI, often saved by Bridges hamming things up, and Bacon’s reliable underplayed intensity. So if you are inclined to see it at all, given how badly it’s been bombing, best to see it soon, as it will really pale on the little screen.
© Paul L. Bates, 2013