Action Movie Friday: R.I.P.D.

It is time for Action Movie Friday, where I treat an action movie like an action movie and not like a drama and stuff. All movie reviews are subjective and while I may like something, you might think it’s shit, and vice versa!

Title: R.I.P.D.
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Release: 2013
Genre: comedy, action, spy, western
Starring: Jeff Bridges, Ryan Reynolds, Kevin Bacon, Marie-Louise Parker, Stephanie Szostak, James Hong, Melissa Miller
Director: Robert Schwentke
Writer: Phil Hay, Matt Manfredi, David Dobkin, Peter M. Lenkov (Dark Horse Comic)
Distributor: Universal
Budget: $130 Million
Box Office: $79 Million

Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 75%

Gingersnaps Rating: Three Cookies!

Summary:

The dead can’t escape their fate. And for those that try, that’s what the R.I.P.D. is there to bring them in. Recently dead cop Nick Walker has a new beat. In exchange for a 100 years of service to the R.I.P.D., the proctor has guaranteed him a good work at judgement day. He’s got a new partner, Roy. A new look, that of an old Chinese man. And a new type of criminal to catch, Deados, the dead who haven’t moved on. But the Deados aren’t moving on easily and are on the verge of striking back. They don’t care anymore if society knows about them. They’ve got a plan and that plan may be why Nick was killed in the first place. Now Nick has to find the man who betrayed him, bring him in or erase him so Earth won’t be destroyed.

Review:

I bought this movie solely because looking at the behind the scene pictures, Ryan Reynolds and Jeff Bridges looked like they were having a ton of fun making the movie. And then it flopped big time at the box office.

Financially, this movie did really poorly. It made $79 million worldwide on a $130 Million dollar budget. It came out against RED 2 and Turbo. (Turbo also did poorly.) That starred the same actors. There is nothing like going up against a movie starring yourself. Anyways, this movie seemed to get more of a bad rap than it deserved. I remember watching it the first time and laughing hysterically. It’s not a great movie, but it’s not a horrible movie either.

The plot is basically the same as MiB. New guy recruited into an agency that deals with something humans aren’t supposed to know about. They even tried to some extent the same stock characters. Rookie, older grouchy mentor, except the rookie is silent and the grouchy mentor is talkative. The grouchy mentor is a bit too talkative. The bad guys are up to something and the rookie and mentor try to save the world. Your fairly basic based on a comic book plot.

If they had focused on that plot, then the movie probably would have been a lot better. Yet in there somehow they tried to shoehorn in a plot about moving on. Nick is having a hard time letting go of his wife. Which makes sense, he died in the opening scenes. However, what really kills the movie is that Roy, who died in the 1800s and is your stereotypical western marshal character complete with eye rolling cowboy slang, hasn’t moved on and is still obsessed with the manner of his death and what happened to his body afterwards. They took the joke one step too far and moved into bad taste about three quarters into the movie. The joke was so bad that it stuck with me far more than the funny bits, so I’m going to take a bite out of the cookie just because of it. I liked Roy’s cowboy stick and how his projected identity was a beautiful woman and how he handled that. That was funny. They just needed to rein in the “my death was horrible and awful and I was ate by coyotes,” melodrama.

Ryan Reynolds does well with movies where he’s allowed to improvise and make wise cracks. So, for him to be the ‘silent’ one didn’t really give him a lot to work with. In that respect, it didn’t feel like a Ryan Reynold’s movie. It’s also too bad that they didn’t let Kevin Bacon (the villain) be Kevin Bacon and let loose. Or focused a bit more on the Deados and the types of Deados. Or how Roy knows where the Deados are. My only other problem with the plot was that they used the “Your experience means nothing” trope again. Obviously, Nick’s experience means something because they recruited him. And if his experience means nothing, why is he doing better than Roy on the investigation level?
So, yeah, one bite of the cookie gone because of Roy.

There was an explosion, it involved an elevator and not a lot of fire but I’ll give them this cookie for inventiveness.

There weren’t a lot of fights in this movie, at least, not until the Deados revealed themselves. And because they were trying to emulate a western, they spent a lot of time in shoot outs, forgetting that every western should have at least one bar brawl. They did a little hand to hand in the end. But it was a lot of slow motion photography of bullets and more shooting and yeah, half a cookie.

There were three women in this story. Julia (Nicks’ wife,) Mildred (the Proctor) and Roy whose projected identity was a beautiful woman. Julia existed to be a damsel in distress, a foil for Nick’s pain. Yes, somehow Nick is the one that died and the movie focused on his grief and not Julia’s. Go figure. Mildred doesn’t really do much. She’s not expressly an authority figure. She’s not really a love interest. She’s just sort of there. Anything could have taken her place and been just as effective. Strangely, the best representation of women in this movie came in Roy’s characterization of when he’s confronted on earth as a woman. Yes, there is no doubt he uses it to his advantage. At the same time, he also stands up to those who treat women like objects. It’s a really odd contradiction. (There are also a lot of really out of place sexist jokes about growing balls. This is why I like saying get a spine/backbone, both males and females have spines.) I’m not really appreciative that the few moments of forward thinking are given to Roy. But it is also there, in the movie, so I’m going to eat three quarters of the cookie and leave one quarter because it does exist.

The world building would have been more interesting if they’d focused it a bit more on it. Like I said above, they really didn’t focus too much on the Deados, the whole reason why the RIPD existed. See the above plot and dialogue section. There were places, especially in the beginning where the CGI was really obvious and pulled me out of the movie. There were a lot of unanswered questions that made me want to know more and usually this means a sequel would be in order. However, this movie left so many unanswered world building questions that people didn’t like it, didn’t recommend it to their friends and thus, it didn’t make enough money to make a sequel. Half a cookie.

Like I said, this wasn’t a great movie and it wasn’t horrible. It suffered from a lack of focus on the actual plot, wrong character development (I don’t care about Roy’s death, really and neither should he anymore. I don’t mind maverick characters, but make them mavericks.) There was also a real lack of good female representation in the movie. Thus it sits roughly in the middle at three cookies.

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