RIPD posterThe opening scene to a movie is vital. Not only from a narrative perspective in setting the scene, but from a stylistic one too, as we get a sense for what sort of movie we are about to indulge in and give a couple of hours of our life to. Well, in Robert Schwentke’s R.I.P.D. the formative opening shot holds little promise for what is to come, as a badly computer animated obese man runs down a Boston street, chased by two awkward heroes, carrying what can only be described as space guns. Instantly you realise this science fiction flick is going to be more Family Guy than The Matrix, and, regrettably, things head steadily downhill from thereon.

The chasing law enforcers in question, are that of Nick (Ryan Reynolds) and Roy (Jeff Bridges), two men who, despite having lived over a century apart, have partnered up together in the Rest In Peace Department (R.I.P.D.), where the dead desperately protect the world from the deceased who have escaped purgatory, and have returned back on Earth in human form. Nick has a personal vendetta of his own, as the recently slain cop wants to go after his killer – and former cop partner – Hayes (Kevin Bacon), while he also attempts to reconnect with his grieving girlfriend (Stephanie Szostak), despite the fact his new form is that of an elderly Chinese man.

Ultimately, the problem with R.I.P.D., is the flawed concept. When filmmakers attempt such grand, hypothetical ideas there is always the risk that the viewer simply won’t abide. This isn’t ever an issue when you’re enjoying yourself, as you willingly let the director take you where they may, however in this instance the inconsistencies to the narrative are glaringly obtrusive, and there are various aspects to this concept that result only in a mere scratching of the head. It’s a disappointment, because the premise has the potential to be somewhat unique, but it’s been dressed up in such conventional, cinematic surroundings, resulting in just another, generic cop drama. Except one with space guns.

Something of a saving grace is, of course, Bacon playing the film’s lead antagonist. He just portrays villainy so sincerely and authentically on screen. That said, this role isn’t quite memorable enough to earn a spot in his latest EE advertisement. Reynolds and Bridges do little to offend, but then again, they don’t exactly impress much either, and they are burdened with a contrived screenplay, bearing lots of supposedly witty banter between the two that simply doesn’t work. To be honest, not much does work in this title, as a film that’s trite, nonsensical, and rather absurd – but not in a good way.

Suspending your disbelief is only half of the job, as once you’ve given yourself to Schwentke and allowed him the opportunity to take you on this surreal adventure into this fantastical universe, the next – and arguably hardest – part, is to ensure you enjoy your stay, whereas as far as this is concerned, you just want a ticket home. R.I.P.D. is one to A.V.O.I.D.