In the unexciting and laugh-free action-comedy “R.I.P.D.,” Ryan Reynolds plays a cop named Nick who dies and is assigned to the Rest in Peace Department, an afterlife police force in which he and a gruff, mismatched partner, Roy (Jeff Bridges) — who died during the Wild West days — keep tabs on the escaped dead souls hiding in our world.
Despite the apocalyptic stakes (the climax involves city buildings crumbling, as usual), the film feels small in scale, with few supporting characters and not nearly enough exploration of the premise. Aside from Mary-Louise Parker as the dead cops’ persnickety boss and Kevin Bacon as Nick’s still-living partner, no one matters. Even Nick’s beloved widow (Stephanie Szostak), for whom he pines but cannot contact (shades of “Ghost”), barely registers. The fugitive souls, nicknamed “deados,” are ogreish CGI creations without personalities.
Reynolds and Bridges are game, but the obvious comparisons to “Men in Black” and “Ghostbusters” don’t work out in their favor. Directed by Robert Schwentke (“The Time Traveler’s Wife,” “RED”) with an over-fondness for quick zooms, “R.I.P.D.” wastes whatever potential it had with bland, jokey dialogue and mediocre action that is expensive yet looks cheap. It’s not unbearable — it will play well on cable a year from now — but you have far better options.
C (1 hr., 36 min.; )