STARRING: Ryan Reynolds, Jeff Bridges, Kevin Bacon, Mary Louise Parker, Robert Knepper, Mike O’Malley, James Hong, and Devin Ratray.
WRITTEN BY: Phil Hay and Matt Manfredi
DIRECTED BY: Robert Schwentke
Yeah, this wasn’t great. Luckily, I felt less like it was a cheap Men-In-Black knock off, and more like the studio abandoned the project midway. What could have been a fun effort, felt like it was slept walked by everyone involved, churned out to be a “finished product” so the studio could cut its losses on a bad film. I’m not sure the story is so different from Men In Black that the film should have ever been made in the first place, but it tries to differentiate itself. I can’t hate on it too much, because we do have several superhero movies that are similar, and no one says that Iron Man can’t exist because Batman already does.
Nick (Ryan Reynolds) is a dirty cop, who steals some gold and buries it at the beginning of the film. He has a good heart. He wants to provide for his family, but he’s still seen as a dirty cop for breaking the law. His partner, Hayes (Kevin Bacon) also does the same thing. Nick feels bad, wants to get rid of the gold, and Hayes is initially OK with it. Then, Hayes kills Nick during a drug bust. Nick goes up to be judged, and instead is offered a place on RIPD by Mary Louise Parker. Nick thinks this will get him back to his wife, but he doesn’t know he appears as an asian man.
Nick is assigned to partner with Roy (Jeff Bridges, doing his best Sling Blade impersonation). Roy was a cowboy, but now he bags and tags deaddies. Heaven wasn’t built to handle the volume of people who die on a daily basis, so somehow people just don’t ascend to heaven. They stay on earth, and they rot things around them. So Roy and Nick travel to earth to bag the souls that never left. Nick also learns (conveniently quickly) that the gold he stole is part of some device used to reverse the flow of the dead. Instead of the dead ascending for judgement, they will all come back to earth. And his ex-partner, Hayes, is behind the whole operation.
So, it’s a little like Men In Black, except with dead people. Bridges also doesn’t retire at the end, so if there was a sequel (there won’t be), it will feature the same two leads. Sorry to burst your bubble, but there isn’t ever a sequence where Bridges is in danger, so I didn’t spoil anything. The special effects are awful, by summer blockbuster standards. Men In Black had better SFX, and it came out 16 years ago. Bridges is also pretty awful in this. I found his Roy to be grating, someone who gets old after about 5 seconds. The problem is, you’re stuck with that character for the whole movie. Ryan Reynolds also sleepwalks through his role as Nick. He’s neither funny, nor dramatic. He just sort of stands there and looks pretty. He wasn’t paid to emote, apparently.
I actually didn’t hate the writing as much. I think the whole script was poorly executed on all fronts, but I think the writers did an OK job of trying to create this world, knowing that it would be immediately compared to Men In Black. Also, Kevin Bacon is pretty good in his role. Bonus points for digging up Home Alone’s Devin Ratray. Definitely don’t pay more to see this in 3D. The SFX are already awful, I can’t imagine what they’d look like as “pop up cinema”. If you must see this, wait for DVD. I’m not even sure you need to rent it on Blu-Ray. It’s just not really worth anyones time.
FINAL GRADE: D