One word: WHY.
R.I.P.D. tells the story of Nick Walker (Ryan Reynolds), a police officer who opens the film with the burying of some mysterious pieces of gold under an orange tree in his backyard. We quickly learn that the gold was found by him and his partner, Bobby (Kevin Bacon), during a drug bust, but Nick tells Bobby that he has decided to return the gold. Later that day, during a raid, Bobby shoots Nick, killing him and sending him to the office of Mildred Proctor (Mary-Louise Parker), head of the Rest In Peace Department, or R.I.P.D. for short. The organization’s purpose is to find dead people, called “deados,” and capture them. Nick is partnered with veteran R.I.P.D. officer Roy Pulsipher (Jeff Bridges), who is not too keen to have a partner. As the two work together on Earth in their avatar forms (Roy as an attractive woman and Nick as an elderly Chinese man), they uncover a plot to start what amounts to an apocalypse, so they must learn to work together in order to prevent the coming of the end of the world.
From the very start of the film, when a voiceover from Nick tells us about how “3 or 4 days ago” he didn’t even know about the R.I.P.D., to the “jokes” that were intended to make us laugh to the choice of the avatars for the two lead characters, everything had me asking, “WHY?!” Why is any of that necessary? Why not just start the film by telling the story rather than with a weird opening that shows us something that happens later in the film? Why make Roy’s avatar an attractive woman (for a reason other than “LOL BECAUSE IT’S FUNNY SINCE HE’S REALLY A DUDE!”)? Nothing in this film made much sense to me, whether it was any of these issues already mentioned or why I was supposed to care about any of the characters or why they made such stupid, obviously incorrect decisions (i.e. apprehending a bad guy and taking him into custody when he obviously wanted to be captured). (I’ll try to minimize my use of the word “why” now…I’m sure you get the idea).
Which Eyes to Shoot Between
Jeff Bridges does his best Rooster Cogburn impression as Roy: an officer who speaks in a difficult-to-understand “cowboy drawl” with a criticized penchant for killing people rather than capturing them and is also opposed to having a partner. Though Bridges is inherently likable in every role, his general likability doesn’t keep his character here from being lame and uninteresting. Ryan Reynolds, while not necessarily bad, doesn’t bring anything special to the table here, so I didn’t care about him or his wife, even when the two are brought together for what I’m sure is meant to be an “emotional” moment at the end of the film. Kevin Bacon is appropriately sinister as the villain, but, again, his lack of interesting motivation, or anything interesting at all, really, makes his character flat and non-threatening to the audience.
Deader than “Deados”
The “jokes” in the film are unfunny (I don’t think I laughed or did anything more than crack a slight smile even once), and the absence of any sort of creativity whatsoever (“deados?” Really?) makes this film fall short of any sort of expectations I had, which, believe it or not, were actually moderately positive. I didn’t expect this film to be super fantastic, but I also didn’t expect it to be on the complete opposite side of the spectrum from that, either. I’m pretty sure that my facial expressions while watching alternated between a general scowl and “what the heck.” R.I.P.D. may look slightly entertaining in the trailers, but don’t be fooled; the movie is more dead than the “deados.”