On the latest episode of Reel Shorts, we look at the good/bad as well as the straight-up UGLY with the release of two films opening this weekend with the comedy/action/thriller, RED 2 and the supernatural “comedy,” R.I.P.D.
A recently slain cop joins a team of undead police officers working for the Rest in Peace Department and tries to find the man who murdered him.
From the opening sequence through the painful and joyless conclusion of this film, based on the comic book Rest in Peace Department by Peter M. Lenkov, both Ryan Reynolds and Oscar-winner Jeff Bridges give it all they have but to no avail.
This story of Nick, a Boston detective, who is betrayed and killed in the line of duty, only to find out that he has been recruited to join the great law office in the sky, literally, when he is drafted into the R.I.P.D., better known as the Rest in Peace Department. Officers assigned to this special unit are given a 100-year bid and the responsibility for hunting down “deados,” undead beings stuck in purgatory who refuse to accept their fate and those who HATE Thai food.
The green Nick is soon partnered with the curmudgeonly 200-year old former lawman, Roy (Bridges), who schools the rookie on the game. Giving him the rundown on the rules of the game and background on his new identity (an elderly Asian man), the two must stop a plot by the Deados to create a hellish two lane interstate to the heavenly afterlife.
Not much in this film makes any sense and there are huge lapses in logic and cinematic judgment that both leads never seem to overcome. Mysteriously, one character who lived in the 1800s, has knowledge of 21st century technology, while his newly minted partner, Nick, is thrown straight into a case investigating the very people who sent him to the afterlife in the first place, simply accepting everything and questioning nothing along the way.
This putrid mix of Men in Black and The Ghostbusters is tonally off, lacking in humor and sadly, outside of the initial effect that transports Nick to the afterlife, features some of the year’s worst special effects. With a budget, reportedly, of $130 million, it’s hard to see where all of the money went. Probably to the team of six credited writers and the high-profile leads.
Director Robert Schwentke, who has entertained audiences in the past with Red and shown a penchant for drama with Flightplan, totally misses the mark with this sorry tale that neither entertains nor gives the audience ANYTHING fresh and new. The only peaceful rest from this terrible film is the small one you’ll get in the middle of the boring cacophony of mayhem and nonsense. R.I.P.D. is absolutely D.O.A.!
Retired C.I.A. agent Frank Moses reunites his unlikely team of elite operatives for a global quest to track down a missing portable nuclear device.
When we last saw our heroes, they were each off to enjoy their lives as putting down the latest threat to the latest global plot. The sequel begins with the now domesticated Frank (Willis) settling down at his new favorite spot, Costco with his bored significant other, Sarah (Parker) in search of some action. That soon comes in the form of their old friend, Marvin (Malkovich), who alerts the duo that once again they’re in danger. Apparently, they have been tagged as global terrorist by the military industrial community, who hunts them down while pursuing an elusive nuclear weapon, created by genius physicist played by Hopkins.
Also joining the party are two assassins pursuing our heroes, the lovely Victoria (Mirren) and the equally dangerous Han (Lee), as well as Frank’s former Soviet flame, the beautiful and manipulative Katya (Zeta-Jones), playfully described as his “Kryptonite.”
Director Dean Parisot amps up the action, the stunts and more importantly the fun in this sequel that manages to outpace its original with it various cinematic sleight of hands and wonderful comic timing from its celebrated and distinguished cast. While buddies Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger are relegated to B-level action movies, Willis still has the skills to pay the bills in this enjoyable franchise that has the potential to be for senior actors what the Fast and Furious franchise has become for the younger set.
Parker, whose talent was wasted in R.I.P.D., shines in this story pushing their relationship forward, while inserting herself into Frank’s often dangerous world. Mirren and Hopkins are equally solid as well with Mirren displaying equal parts sexiness with the attractive ability to still put the smackdown on the level of her male counterparts. Malkovich continues to channel his quirky personality into elements of the film that work quite well. Zeta Jones’ Katya represents a look back into Frank’s early life, which allows him the rare opportunity to celebrate his past while looking forward to his future with Sarah.
All in all, RED 2 is a satisfying global romp that showcases a talented and fun group of actors who are beginning to inhabit their enjoyable characters in ways that make it easy to see that this is a franchise that may continue as long as Willis and his crew have interest in solving the world’s problems. To paraphrase Marvin, “old my ASS!”
Listen to the reviews below: