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Apocalypse again? R.I.P.D. arrives DOA

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Look out behind you: Ryan Reynolds shoots the wrong way in this summer action retread.

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Look out behind you: Ryan Reynolds shoots the wrong way in this summer action retread.

In this comic-book adaptation, a young cop has his eyes opened to a bizarre, hitherto unseen reality when he is invited to join a strange secret agency and is paired with a terse, cranky, older law enforcer who shows him how to deal with the weird, otherworldly creatures who walk our world in secret.

The above description applies to director Robert Schwentke's R.I.P.D., yes, but in case you're impressed with the originality of its concept, know that it also applies equally to the 1997 sci-fi comedy Men in Black.

To avoid outright accusations of plagiarism, R.I.P.D. spins off from a religious premise instead of a science-fiction one. Its young cop character, Nick (Ryan Reynolds), is killed in action during the takedown of a drug kingpin. Instead of going to heaven or hell, the mildly corrupt Nick ends up at R.I.P.D., a kind of specialized purgatory for dead police officers, tasked with capturing "deados," that is: dead people who continue to inhabit the earth in disguise as still-living humans. (One of the ways deados reveal themselves is a revulsion to Indian food. Go figure.)

Nick is partnered with Roy (Jeff Bridges), once a sheriff of the Old West who takes it upon himself to grudgingly educate the rookie Nick with the procedures of the R.I.P.D.

But Nick has some unfinished business of his own to handle, including a proper farewell to his wife Julia (Stephanie Szostak) and a reckoning with Hayes (Kevin Bacon), the cop partner who betrayed him.

Unfortunately, in his new incarnation, Nick appears to regular humans as an "old Chinese guy" (James Hong) while Roy looks like a sexy Victoria's Secret model (played by sexy Victoria's Secret model Melissa Miller).

Along the way, Nick becomes aware of a mysterious deado plot that involves the assembly of various solid gold chunks for undoubtedly nefarious purpose.

Scripted by Phil Hay and Matt Manfredi (Clash of the Titans), this is silly stuff. As far as visual effects go, in addition to a number of gruesome-looking mutant deados, there is a battery of end-of-the-world style destruction, an obligatory facet to summer films, especially in the summer of 2013.

In R.I.P.D., it is officially getting old.

Of course, Jeff Bridges is also getting old, but he offers up some redeeming humour to this masala of action, comedy and supernatural hooey. Roy's haunted memories of his own earthly fate (involving coyotes) constitute the film's sole example of originality -- and one good laugh -- in what is otherwise a retread of the same old summer movie: Apocalypse Again.

randall.king@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 20, 2013 G3

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