“When there’s no more room in hell, the dead shall walk the earth.” That is the premise of horror film after horror film, sometimes with the quote even plastered on the poster. “R.I.P.D.” gives an interesting twist to the undead formula, even if the results are a bit predictable.
Ryan Reynolds (“Green Lantern”) is Nick Walker, a star cop on the Boston police force who is unexpectedly killed in the line of duty. Instead of facing judgment like most other souls, the cosmic higher-ups who want his skills put into action admit him into the Rest in Peace Department.
The department’s duty is to detain and/or banish renegade souls who have dodged judgment to continue existing in the world of the living. These dead souls rot in the world of the living, causing decay around them. Ryan joins Roy Pulsipher (Jeff Bridges, “True Grit”), a department veteran of over 200 years, and they unravel a plot to bring the imprisoned dead en masse to the living world, causing the apocalypse.
If that seems like a bit much to take in, that’s because it is. “R.I.P.D.” borrows a lot from other films, most notably feeling like a mix between “Constantine” and “Men in Black.” The film is paced at quite a clip, and goes by too fast for any exposition to get in the way. This is kind of refreshing, however, since most audiences will know what they’re getting into after seeing the trailer. It’s nice to see a film that trusts its audience to know what’s going on.
The film’s action feels exaggerated and almost cartoonish, but it’s too exhilarating to care. “R.I.P.D.” emphasizes fun over almost all else, and the cartoonish visuals and action compliment the goofy story.
If there is one complaint with the film, it’s that it doesn’t really take the genre in new directions. It feels like the producers looked at horror and undead films then said, “Make it like ‘Men in Black.’” And while director Robert Schwentke’s trademark sense of humor is present, it doesn’t give the film a distinct uniqueness.
“R.I.P.D.” is harmless fun. It doesn’t break any new ground, but at the same time, it’s a cathartic piece of over-the-top action. There are certainly worse ways to spend 10 bucks.