Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Dead men running

Spectral incursions and cartoony violence adequately mix in “R.I.P.D.,” starring Ryan Reynolds as a recently killed cop, Nick Walker, whose soul gets recruited into the Boston division of the Rest In Peace Department. It’s “Men in Black” meets “Ghostbusters,” as dead agents investigate cases involving monstrous spirits, and deal with them accordingly. Nick is partnered with a blunt, no-nonsense lawman from the 1800s, Roy Pulsipher (Jeff Bridges).

The organization depicted in the movie feels a lot like the super-covert defenders of “Men in Black.” It’s a well-organized group that equips certain individuals with special weaponry and paraphernalia (including Indian food, yes), and goes after targets disguised as humans. It feels a whole lot like “MiB,” up to the odd couple/good cop-bad cop dynamic. The Nick-Roy pairing, however, relies heavily on the latter’s over-the-top ways. Reynolds plays a more subdued character, just when you thought he’d play the same goofy, wisecracking guy again from most of his movies.

The characters are somewhat interesting: Nick was an erring cop, although nowhere near as rotten as the obviously shady colleague (Kevin Bacon), and he’s guilt-ridden enough to consider rectifying his mistakes as a phantom. Roy is a take-charge fellow overly attached to his hat, and is vocal about a fetish. As a team, though, they go through the motions; it really is a simple plot with the usual stakes and underwhelmingly familiar scenarios.

A few things make it just okay. The humor connects, however shallow it may be (Nick and Roy’s earthly forms are good for a couple of laughs); the drama is just right (Nick’s attempts at revealing himself to, and his reunion with his widow); the melees are big and studded with effects (the climactic battles have a proper, semi-apocalyptic feel to them). “R.I.P.D.” offers nothing new, but it’s a decent enough time-killer, an average fantasy-actioner that has its own escapist bits.

No comments: