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"R.I.P.D."
(2013) (Ryan Reynolds, Jeff Bridges) (PG-13)

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QUICK TAKE:
Supernatural Action: Two deceased lawmen - one from the modern day, one from the Old West - team up to battle evil souls who have escaped back to Earth.
PLOT:
Nick (RYAN REYNOLDS) is a modern-day cop who is having regrets that he and his partner, Hayes (KEVIN BACON), took a secret stash of gold during a recent drug bust. He wants only to be seen as a good man in the eyes of his wife, Julia (STEPHANIE SZOSTAK), who adores him and doesn't care that they aren't rich. Hayes, though, betrays and murders Nick during another drug bust.

For his misdeeds, Nick is sent on a journey towards what looks like Hell. But at the last minute, he is snatched up and sent to another part of the Hereafter known as the Rest in Peace Department, headed by the acerbic Proctor (MARY LOUISE PARKER). This agency is comprised of deceased lawmen from over the decades, who get to return to Earth in human form to nab evil souls who have escaped Judgment. He is partnered with Roy (JEFF BRIDGES), a legendary 1800s lawman from the Old West who was also betrayed by his partner.

Together, the two team up to foil a plot involving stolen shards of gold that when assembled form an ancient device that allows the evil dead to return to Earth. On Earth, they appear to humans in avatar form. Roy looks like a supermodel (MARISSA MILLER) and Nick looks like an elderly Asian man (JAMES HONG). Hayes is the mastermind behind the plot, and he will eventually need the blood of an innocent - Julia - to open the portal.

OUR TAKE: 4.5 out of 10
Our reviewing policy for films that aren't shown in advance to critics is that we'll only provide a couple of paragraphs about the film's artistic merits.

Every once in a while, certain actors get christened as the "new somebody-somebody." When Russell Crowe first hit, he was "the new Marlon Brando." When Matthew McConaughey nabbed the lead role in "A Time to Kill," several publications labeled him "the new Paul Newman." If Ryan Reynolds isn't careful, he's going to turn into "the new Ben Affleck circa 1998 to 2004." The man has appeared in a lot of disposable Hollywood product in the last few years. And while he is certainly likable and holds his own on screen, he's starting to become "Bland, Generic Hollywood Leading Man." He's like the go-to lead when Brad Pitt or Tom Cruise or Robert Downey Jr. passes on a project.

He should have passed on his latest film, the big-budget supernatural buddy cop flick "R.I.P.D." Why? Because the movie would have been better off without him. Any buddy flick sorely needs both of the buddies to be distinct mismatches. The film is drawing the most comparisons to "Men in Black." Well, that film worked because Tommy Lee Jones was SO Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith was SO Will Smith. In "R.I.P.D." - about deceased cops teaming up to apprehend evil souls who have escaped Judgment and fled back to Earth - Jeff Bridges is simply awesome as an 1800s Old West lawmen, effortlessly melding his "True Grit" and "Big Lebowski" characters into something hilarious and distinct. Ryan Reynolds? He's a cop from today. And he has a wife. He's tall and good-looking. He zzzzzzzz.

It's too bad. "R.I.P.D." could have been a really fun bit of escapist fluff. If you are a Bridges fan, I could certainly recommend this film on his performance alone. Mary Louise Parker is also quite funny in essentially the Rip Torn role here, head of the Rest in Peace Department, and Kevin Bacon makes for a slimy crooked cop with an agenda that feeds in nicely with the main plot of dark forces looking to literally unleash Hell on Earth. For a studio dump job (a late July release with no critics' screenings), this was better than I thought it would be. But it's nothing you should pay full price for. Wait for this flick's Afterlife on DVD/pay-per-view. I give it a 4.5 out of 10. (T. Durgin)




Reviewed July 19, 2013 / Posted July 19, 2013


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