I am sorry to report that it appears as if July is in a bit of a tailspin at the movies. After two weekends of fantastic films (Despicable Me 2 and Pacific Rim), mid-July seems to be the new January/September dump. Usually, those are the months when Hollywood takes the dreck they’re not worried about losing money on and throws them onto screens in hopes of making the most of opening weekend. But this weekend, we see the release of two huge duds. As if Red 2 wasn’t bad enough, now we’re bombarded with R.I.P.D. — aka the most blatant Men in Black rip-off since Men in Black 2.
Boston police officer Nick (Ryan Reynolds) is having a horrible day; but not as bad as the one he had three or four days ago. When the story jumps back to that day, we watch as Nick attempts to take down a meth distributor/cop killer called Garza. Joining him in the raid is fellow officer Hayes (Kevin Bacon), whom Nick just had a heart-to-heart with involving whether or not they should both keep some gold they found on another drug bust. Nick doesn’t want to keep the gold, being that he’s perfectly happy with how things are at home with his wife Julia (Stephanie Szostak).
After Hayes shoots Nick down during the raid, Nick is swooped up into the tunnel of judgment and winds up in front of Proctor (Mary-Louise Parker), who offers him a job working for the Rest In Peace Department. The R.I.P.D. hunts down the “deados” stuck in the afterlife. Nick takes the job and is assigned to partner up with Roy (Jeff Bridges), who’s been working for the Boston division since he was shot down as a Marshall in the old west. Nick and Roy are seen by the living as avatars (played by James Hong and Marissa Miller) while Roy continually brings up how his body was eaten and molested by buzzards and coyotes to remind Nick that Roy’s the one in charge. Soon enough, Nick figures out that Hayes is after the gold and a devilish plot is in motion to bring about an apocalypse to the oblivious people on Earth.
Director Robert Schwentke adapts Peter M. Lenkov’s Dark Horse comic into one of the summer’s biggest borefests. A period of 53 years is mentioned at one point by Roy and that’s about how long the movie feels. With some of the worst action cinematography (made even worse by being in 3D — and adding insult to injury the film was screened in a Dolby 3D theater which is the worst 3D ever) from Alwin H. Kuchler, you never know what’s really happening on screen. It doesn’t help that the film also jumps from ripping off Men in Black to Ghostbusters and The Matrix. The screenplay is literally that choppy thanks to writers Phil Hay and Matt Manfredi — known for such “stellar” outings as Crazy/Beautiful, The Tuxedo, Æon Flux, and the Clash of the Titans remake.
Reynolds and Bridges have absolutely zero chemistry. They could have taken a page from Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith seeing how they’re stuck in what is essentially a remake, just with dead people instead of aliens. I’ve never read the comic series so I have no idea how faithful the film is, but now I’ll never touch it. I’m sure Universal Pictures was looking to give birth to a new franchise, but considering the tracking is looking even more abysmal than Pacific Rim, I’d say they’re never going to make back their $130 million budget. R.I.P.D. is DOA.
Photos courtesy Universal Pictures