Cert: 12A Runtime: 96 mins Director: Robert Schwentke Cast: Ryan Reynolds, Jeff Bridges, Mary-Louise Parker, Stephanie Szostak and Kevin Bacon
I don’t usually go for Western, but… it’s working for me
Basically when I saw the trailer I thought this is Men In Black! This is yet another comic book movie, the Rest in Peace Department is a Dark Horse comic book franchise. Boston cop Nick (Ryan Reynolds) is shot dead by his partner Hayes (Kevin Bacon) to prevent him from returning some stolen gold. But that’s not the end of the line for Nick. He awakes to find himself in the antiseptic afterlife office of Proctor (Mary-Louise Parker), who runs the Rest In Peace Department. She offers Nick the opportunity to join the squad, returning to Boston to help rid the city of ‘deados’ – malevolent spirits hiding out among humanity. He’s partnered with Roy (Jeff Bridges), a grizzled veteran of the Old West. And to prevent them being recognized, the duo appear to the living in different forms. Nick becomes a Chinese man, while Roy is a voluptuous woman! The story unfolds in utterly predictable beats, with Roy showing Nick the ropes of the after-dead police work at the beginning and Nick impressing Roy subsequently with a resourceful thing or two of his own (yes, you can bet Nick eventually earns the handshake Roy denied him at the start). Not to mention that Nick gets to settle his score with Bobby – despite being dead – when it turns out that the latter is involved in some kind of scheme with the Dead-Os to open a portal for the dead to enter the world of the living by reassembling some ancient totem called the Staff of Jericho.There are some moments of inspiration though. A running gag centers around the guises adopted by the officers of the R.I.P.D. among the living – in particular, Nick and Roy in the form of the mismatched duo of an old Chinese man (veteran actor James Hong) and a blond bombshell (model Melissa Miller). Another has the Dead-Os drawn out of their human disguises by Indian spices. Such flashes of brilliance however are however few and far in between, and one can’t quite help but feel that the film is otherwise underdone and underdeveloped.
In adapting Peter M. Lenkov’s Dark Horse comic for the big screen, ‘Clash of the Titans” Phil Hay and Matt Manfredi recycle the old pro/ young hotshot setup of many of a buddy cop comedy and certainly the most obvious ripoff ‘Men in Black’. From a brief scene where Nick and Roy are chasing an oversized man-monster giant down the streets of Boston, we are catapulted ‘three or four days’ into the past to observe how Nick’s cop with a conscience is betrayed by his partner Bobby (Kevin Bacon) on a meth bust and recruited into the R.I.P.D. by the wise-cracking Proctor (Mary-Louise Parker).If director Robert Schwentke is aware of the script’s deficiencies, he certainly does little to compensate in the action department. In spite of the plentiful car crashes, gun battles and explosions, the film feels frantic rather than exciting. The visual effects also look cheap for what is supposed to be an expensive Hollywood summer production; in fact, the computer-generated deados look silly and cartoonish, even less convincing than that in the ‘MIB’ series done some fifteen years ago. And let’s not even begin with the 3D, which tacked on during post- production, is completely superfluous.For a film with an acronym as its title, there are unfortunately many others that can be associated with it. D.O.A. would be one such apt descriptor, considering its reception Stateside among both audiences and critics alike. Then there’s R.I.P., which is likely to be its fate given how dull it is. And while we’re at it, you might as well add an ‘OFF’ there, since it pretty much borrows from every other supernatural action comedy that’s been done, including ‘Ghostbusters’ and of course ‘MIB’. Like we said at the beginning, there is but one redeeming factor here – but even the six-time Academy Award nominee and one-time Academy Award winning Best Actor can’t quite rescue this comic book movie from the second-rate bargain basement it belongs.