Confusing and silly plot offers little to recommend. Dead lawmen Jeff Bridges and Ryan Reynolds are assigned by the Rest in Peace Department to purge Earth of zombie monsters called Dead-Os.
Jeff Bridges certainly won't be winning another best-actor Oscar for his grating performance as an after-life cop in R.I.P.D.
The film (* 1/2 out of four; rated PG-13; opens Friday nationwide), directed by Robert Schwentke (2010's Red), features Bridges looking like Colonel Sanders and sounding like a low-rent marble-mouth version of his Rooster Cogburn character in True Grit.Any chemistry with the partner assigned him, a bland Ryan Reynolds, is sorely lacking.
Roy (Bridges) and Nick (Reynolds) seem patterned after the mismatched duo in Men in Black. But their one-liners fall resoundingly flat and most of the computerized special effects in this 3-D sci-fi/action adventure are garish and overbearing. At the same time, the parameters of the story are bizarre, to say the least.
Both of these guys were lawmen: Roy's heyday was the Old West more than a century ago, and Nick was a Boston police detective until he was shot by his conniving partner Hayes (Kevin Bacon).
They're assigned by the wise-cracking Proctor (Mary-Louise Parker) of the Rest in Peace Department to catch a subclass of creatures known as Dead-O's — deceased bad guys who somehow escaped judgment and have returned to Earth masquerading as humans.
Dead-O's are a decidedly unattractive bunch bent on world domination. It's up to Roy and Nick to stop a potential apocalypse.
Here's the ah-ha moment: If someone eats Indian food in front of these nefarious zombie types, the creatures' true selves will come forth. Say what?
Perhaps there was a clever germ of an idea here, but the five credited writers didn't develop characters, scenarios or rules in this sci-fi world well enough to engage the audience.
One of the few notable scenes occurs just after Nick's shooting death, inside a warehouse. Just after he expires, all activity around him is frozen. He walks through this suspended world and then is sucked into the clouds. The effect is visually intriguing as it captures Nick's last Earthly memories in a freeze-frame.
A recurring gag centers on how differently the living see these dead officers. They can be perceived, but not as their former selves. The goateed Roy takes the form of a blonde bombshell (Marisa Miller). Nick's avatar is an elderly Chinese man (James Hong).
There's an unhealthy dose of bathroom humor and plentiful mind-numbing destruction by way of car crashes, building explosions and shoot-outs with giant weaponry.
The action is hectic rather than exciting and lacks visual panache. The computer-generated Dead-O's are badly configured eyesores, thudding around clumsily wreaking havoc, like less impressive versions of The Incredible Hulk.
While Bridges chews the scenery with his garrulous Southern-accented chatter, Reynolds is too restrained. There's little sign of the easy charm, intelligence and affability both actors are known for.
Based on a comic book, R.I.P.D. reinforces the point that not every graphic novel should be adapted to film.