Film Review: R.I.P.D.

Reviewed by Sam Robinson

Rated M. Starring Jeff Bridges, Ryan Reynolds, Kevin Bacon. Directed by Robert Schwentke.

[Stars: 3/5]

What happens after we die?

This is the big question being asked in R.I.P.D., the recent supernatural buddy action comedy from director Robert Schwentke.

Cop Nick Walker (Reynolds) is shot dead on the job one day, but before you start assuming I’ve ruined the film for you, this is just the start of the story. Nick finds himself in limbo with a choice. Either he heads straight for judgement, or he can work for the Rest In Peace Department for 100 years alongside wily cowboy cop Roy (Bridges). The R.I.P.D. patrol earth to capture dead spirits that somehow didn’t end up crossing over and who have a strange distaste to Indian cuisine.

As you sit down to watch R.I.P.D., there’s a chance you’ll feel a strong sense of deja vu. This film is almost a carbon copy of Men in Black: from its comic book roots to the unlikely pairing of Walker and Roy, to the clinical department monitoring this secret world. Heck, even the undead do that gross neck-creaking, groaning thing. There’s also more than a few tips of the hat to Ghostbusters too.

But despite many borrowed elements, R.I.P.D. still manages to find its own feet. Sure, there’s some big problems along the way, but the film is still a 90-minute adventure ride. Schwentke uses these fast zooms and tilts to add a dizzying spin to this bizarre tale, and the avatar disguise mechanism is a winning idea. Jeff Bridges is fantastic as crazy cowboy Roy – although at times it’s crazy hard to understand his speech, it’s almost like he’s talking with food in his mouth for the whole film.

It’s a shame though that as escapist as R.I.P.D. is, it’s still pretty flawed. The producers could have worked much much harder to explore and expand this undead world, and the film’s running time seemed far too short – almost as though they kept the story to a bare minimum so cinema-goers can get an early night.

The heroes in this film are putting these rogue undead spirits to death, for good. Of course the concept of what happens after we die as presented in this film is ridiculous, but it reveals this need to keep certain things dead, particularly things that don’t belong anymore.

The Bible calls us to do this very thing – to put something to death. It’s our sin. Jesus has come to earth to die on a cross to save us from our sin when we place our trust in him. But we still live in a sin-infested world, it haunts us in our hearts. Sin isn’t confined to ‘bad deeds’, it’s actually when we choose to live our own way rather than live God’s way. So even though we’re saved when we trust in Jesus, the Bible still makes it clear about how we should handle sin. Colossians 3:4-6:

When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming.

We are called to put sin to death. Isn’t that incredible imagery! Jesus has saved us, given us a new identity, so we belong to him and are to live for him. Sin just doesn’t fit in the picture anymore. Jesus is coming back and he wants our whole hearts. We need to ensure we’re putting our sin to death for good.

R.I.P.D. isn’t perfect, but it’s a fun ride through a very different world that thankfully, is far from reality. I’m giving it three stars out of five.

R.I.P.D. is available on Blu-Ray, DVD and streaming on Quickflix.

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