Movie review: ‘R.I.P.D.’ is recycled action-movie tedium
Review • Comedy mixes forced jokes and chintzy effects.
Published: July 19, 2013 01:07PM
Updated: December 7, 2013 11:35PM
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Scott Garfield | Universal Pictures "R.I.P.D." ï Jeff Bridges (left) and Ryan Reynolds star as cops in an otherworldly "Rest In Peace Department" who deal with the dead who won't go to the other side. (Opens July 19)

The action-comedy “R.I.P.D.” is D.O.A., a stagnant mix of bargain-basement visual effects, tired buddy-cop cliches and phoned-in performances by stars Ryan Reynolds and Jeff Bridges.

The movie, adapted from the Dark Horse Comics title, depicts an afterlife law-enforcement agency — the Rest In Peace Department — tasked with keeping dead souls out of the land of the living. If the words “dead souls” have you recalling Gogol from your Russian Lit class, you’re too smart for this movie.

Reynolds plays Nick Walker, a Boston police detective who is gunned down during a drug bust by his corrupt partner, Bobby Hayes (Kevin Bacon). Nick finds himself ascending toward something heavenly, but more like a massive post-mortality bureaucracy. There, the Proctor — played by Mary-Louise Parker, whose deadpan wit is the movie’s only saving grace — tells Nick he’s been assigned to the R.I.P.D. for 100 years.

Nick gets a partner, Roy Pulsipher (Bridges), an Old West lawman who shoots first and may or may not ask questions later. Bridges essentially recycles his Rooster Cogburn mannerisms here — but in a movie whose action sequences steal from “The Matrix” and “Ghostbusters,” who’s going to notice?

Director Robert Schwentke (“Red,” “Flightplan”) is aiming for a “Men in Black” vibe, mixing cop-talk humor with outlandish special effects. The only aspect of “Men in Black” that he gets right, though, is making the whole enterprise feel like it was made back in the 1990s.

Practically everything about “R.I.P.D.” — from the dramatic subplot involving Nick’s widowed bride (Stephanie Szostak) to the running gag about how the rest of the world sees Nick and Roy (their avatars are played, respectively, by veteran actor James Hong and supermodel Marisa Miller) — is forced and phony. Send this one back to the dead-letter office.

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‘R.I.P.D.’

This action-comedy, about cops patrolling the afterlife, is bland and boring.

Where • Theaters everywhere.

When • Now open.

Rating • PG-13 for violence, sci-fi/fantasy action, some sensuality, and language including sex references.

Running time • 96 minutes