Director: Robert Schwentke (‘RED,’ ‘The Time Traveler’s Wife’)
Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Jeff Bridges, Kevin Bacon and Mary-Louise Parker
Creatively pairing two distinctively different detective characters who are both rooted in their distinctive mindsets on how to detain criminals, and setting their continuous bickering over who has the better approach against a unique story, isn’t always the easiest process for filmmakers. But director Robert Schwentke, who found success in the action crime comedy genre after helming the 2010 hit ‘RED,’ effortlessly paired distinctive actors Ryan Reynolds and Jeff Bridges, in his new film, ‘R.I.P.D.’ The movie, which is based on the Dark Horse Comic created by Peter M. Lenkov, not only features a natural, comedic chemistry between the two lead actors who play the distinctive characters, it also features creative visuals that highlight the imaginativeness of the story.
‘R.I.P.D.’ follows rising-star Boston detective Nick Walker (Reynolds), who is tragically shot and killed in the line of duty during what has the potential to be the biggest criminal bust of his career. Leaving behind his grieving wife, Julia (Stephanie Szostak), and his partner, Hayes (Kevin Bacon), Nick is transported to the legendary title police force, the Rest In Peace Department. When Nick arrives at the department, Proctor (Mary-Louise Parker), the head of the R.I.P.D., assigns him to work with the wise-cracking veteran sheriff Roy Pulsifer (Bridges).
Roy has spent his career with with the R.I.P.D. tracking monstrous spirits, known as Deados, who are cleverly disguised as ordinary people, and are hiding on Earth. He teaches the department’s newest recruit how to arrest and bring to justice the special brand of criminals trying to escape final judgment. The new partners have to learn how to turn grudging respect into top-notch teamwork. When they uncover a plot that could end life as we know it, the two of must miraculously restore the cosmic balance, or watch the tunnel to the afterlife begin sending angry souls back to Earth.
Schwentke smartly cast Reynolds and Bridges in their respective roles as the veteran and rookie R.I.P.D. detectives who are forced to overcome their distinctive, differing approaches to apprehending criminals. Reynolds brought a heartfelt emotion to Nick’s difficult separation from Julia and transition into killing monsters for the R.I.P.D. At the same time, he also cleverly balanced his character’s challenging new job by effortlessly and comically challenging Roy’s firm stance in meticulously following his proven antics of capturing monsters. While Bridges amusingly portrays Roy as naturally injecting his new partnership with wisecracks about Nick’s unwillingness to let go of his past and just follow through on the job Proctor assigns them, Reynolds captivatingly brings a sentimental motivation in accurately getting their jobs done.
While Reynolds and Bridges build an intriguing mentorship between their characters while the two detectives are trying to learn how to work with each other, Schwentke also created distinctive looking Deados. The monsters showed their unique personalities as they fought to break free from the R.I.P.D. detectives. From splintered, decaying skulls to elongated tongues with razor sharp teeth, the filmmaker inventively created memorable, larger-than-life monsters with intriguing appearances that subliminally highlighted the action crime comedy’s satire of detectives relentlessly tracking criminals.
The elaborate make-up of the Deados effortlessly mirrored the distinctive looks of the two differing detectives, which visually emphasized that everyone had a unique idea on how life on Earth should be like. Costume designer Susan Lyall naturally dressed Nick and Roy in outfits that clearly reflect the two detectives’ distinct personalities and ideas on how to work a case and catch criminals. Nick regularly wore dark blazers and jeans to emphasize his penchant for relying on cunning and coy police work to track and capture criminals. Roy, meanwhile, still held his cowboy lifestyle he became accustomed to during the Civil War, often wearing a button-down shirt and trademark cowboy hat, which showcased his appreciation for vigilante, take-charge justice.
‘R.I.P.D.’ is a comically amusing, visually captivating action crime comedy that seamlessly balances the natural witty chemistry between Reynolds and Bridges and the stunning make-up and designs of the characters. Schwentke smartly cast the two actors as the two distinctive protagonists, as Reynolds and Bridges effortlessly showcased how their characters have drastically differing views on handing out criminal punishment and contending with personal loss. Their contradicting views were naturally highlighted by Lyall’s distinct costume designs for the two lead characters; the designs visually helped reinforce the action crime comedy’s theme that no matter what obstacles people face, they’re bound to overcome any challenge, as long as they learn how to work together.
Written by: Karen Benardello