RIPD Review (Kirk Haviland)

R.I.P.D.-Banner-01New in theaters this weekend from the director of “Red” Robert Schwentke is the latest multimillion dollar extravaganza vying for your money, R.I.P.D. Jeff Bridges and Ryan Reynolds headline as two cops dispatched by the otherworldly ‘Rest In Peace Department’ to protect and serve the living from an increasingly destructive array of souls who refuse to move peacefully to the other side.


Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Jeff Bridges, Mary-Louise Parker, Stephanie Szostak, James Hong, Marisa Miller and Kevin Bacon

Written by Phil Hay and Matt Manfredi

Directed by Robert Schwentke 

Veteran sheriff Roy Pulsifer (Bridges) has spent his career with the legendary police force known as R.I.P.D. tracking monstrous spirits who are cleverly disguised as ordinary people. Once the wise-cracking Roy is assigned former rising-star detective Nick Walker (Reynolds) as his junior officer, the new partners have to turn grudging respect into top-notch teamwork.  When they uncover a plot that could end life as we know it, two of R.I.P.D.’s finest must miraculously restore the cosmic balance, or watch the tunnel to the afterlife begin sending angry souls the very wrong way.

ripd proctorThe biggest issue with RIPD is perhaps that nothing seems to happen in the film. All the actions play out without a morsel of interest and the impact of what the characters are supposed to be doing, saving the world, never registers for a second. The stakes and consequences in the script feel as flat and uninterested as some of the actors in the film. What Jeff Bridges is doing, other than cashing a paycheck, is baffling. His Roy comes off as a very sad mix of Col. Sanders from Kentucky Fried Chicken fame, the drunkest moments of the ‘Dude’ Lebowski and a poor impression of Val Kilmer’s Doc Holiday from “Tombstone”. Ryan Reynolds delivers exactly the same performance we always get from Reynolds, but the poor script and dialogue means his affable charm becomes uninteresting and downright terrible in parts. The only actor that brings anything to the screen is Mary-Louise Parker as the gruff superior officer Proctor. Parker is mesmerizing, but sadly appears in less than a third of the 95 minute film, leaving the audience awaiting her return every time she leaves.

ripd-tv-spot-jeff-bridgesThe CGI effects work is actually pretty well done, the more comic based unrealistic look of most of the ‘popped deados’ certainly look good onscreen, but how they are used is what becomes the issue. The action apes the early “Men in Black” films, but the first of those was almost 20 years ago and looks dated upon re-watching, without the tongue in cheek winks and nods to the screen. The big action sequences seem so surreal and ineffective within the world that they occur in and the lack of impact in the world of the film translates to the audience. Kevin Bacon’s Hayes proves to be a very lackluster villain that leads to another action packed yet lame and uninteresting finale. Lastly, and perhaps even most egregious, the big mystery of the film that Roy and Nick have to unravel is evident from the very first moments of the film and never that much of a mystery.


ripd-jameshong-grandpachen-marisamiller-600R.I.P.D. misses the mark on many points. Any of the film’s funnier moments are packed into the marketing of the film and then stomped to death in the film, the use of the avatars that Roy and Nick have being the biggest example of this. In a summer that has been packed with many solid blockbusters and some surprising ones, “White House Down” and “World War Z” for example, that turned out to be more fun than what was expected, R.I.P.D. underperforms on the below average expectations the film entered with.

Till Next Time

Movie Junkie TO

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Safe Review (Kirk Haviland)

Safe (2012)

Starring Jason Statham, Catherine Chan, Robert John Burke, James Hong, Anson Mount and Chris Sarandon.

Written and Directed by Boaz Yakin.


Jason Statham has been carving out a decent resume of action films for years now. His chiseled looks, thick English accent and hand-to-hand combat skills have made him a star. Safe is a film that feels like it’s ripped straight from the late 80’s/early 90’s with Statham jumping into the role that would have easily gone the likes of Steven Segal back then. But the question is can a film with the qualities of those late 80’s action set pieces work in 2012?

Safe begins outlining the fate of Mei (Chan), a 12 year-old girl with an amazing ability to read, interpret and memorize numbers effortlessly. The Chinese Triad operation hears about this girl and uses her to start organizing drops and keep mental booking of their illegal US operations, while holding her mother hostage back in China to guarantee compliance. Mei is given a series of numbers to memorize, then is to be driven to a second location for a second set of numbers, but the plan goes awry. En route to the second numbers the Triad’s caravan is attacked by the Russian Mob, who promptly take Mei and attempt to force her to tell them the first set of numbers. This then brings in the involvement of Captain Wolf (Burke), a corrupt NYC police Captain more worried about increasing his percentage of the take from both sides than dispensing any justice. During the commotion of a police standoff, Mei manages to escape to the subway where she crosses paths with Luke Wright (Statham). Luke is a former cage fighter who was supposed to take a dive but instead manages to put his opponent into a coma with one strike. A lot of people lose money on the fight, including the same Russian mob who pay Luke’s wife a very deadly visit. Luke is told to disappear or he will suffer the same fate, which he does. He has returned to NYC in an effort to put stuff together when he is recognized by one of NYC’s finest. We then are informed that Luke is actually a former NYC policeman who became whistle blower against the same Captain Wolf and his crew. After a generous beat down, Luke ends up in the Subway where he sees Mei and recognizes her attackers, and the insanity begins. Eventually even the higher ups, the Mayor (Sarandon) and his top aide (Mount), become embroiled in the wake of the increasing body count.

Director Yakin smartly embraces all the contentions of the 80’s action genre and manages to craft a fun and entertaining ride. Statham knows how to deliver in these situations and newcomer Chan does very well as the precocious Mei. Yakin also has been very savvy in scattering many familiar faces from late 80’s/early 90’s action films throughout the supporting cast. James Hong (Big Trouble in Little China and many more), Robert John Burke (Robocop 3) and Chris Sarandon (the original Fright Night and Child’s Play) all lend a retro feel while providing solid backing work throughout the film.

Overall Safe is a fun night out at the movies that is not meant for heavy criticism. This throwback is the perfect prep film for the popcorn fare starting next week with The Avengers. And it’s a lot better than any of these trailers/commercials are allowing it to look.

Til Next Time

Movie Junkie TO

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