R.I.P.D. 2: Rise of the Damned (2022) Review
R.I.P.D. 2: Rise of the Damned may be the most unexpected sequel in recent memory, and in a year that’s seen Eraser: Reborn and Blade of the 47 Ronin that’s saying a lot. The 2013 original was a Men in Black style action comedy that featured Ryan Reynolds as a ghostly cop protecting the living from undead threats. It was also an expensive flop, the kind studios want to forget, not make sequels, or in this case, prequels, to.
Set in 1876, R.I.P.D. 2: Rise of the Damned is the story of Sheriff Roy Pulsipher, played by Jeff Bridges (The Big Lebowski, Starman) in the original and Jeffrey Donovan (Villains, Law & Order) this time around. Here he’s meeting his daughter Charlotte (Tilly Keeper, EastEnders, Marooned Awakening) and her fiance Angus (Richard Fleeshman, The Sandman, Coronation Street) at the train station when a robbery occurs and he’s killed in a shootout.
He’s recruited into the R.I.P.D. (Rest In Peace Department) and returned to Earth with the sword-wielding Jeanne (Penelope Mitchell, The Vampire Diaries, The Hyperions) as his partner. But rather than avenging his death, they’re sent to Red Creek Utah where a miner has dug a little too deep and opened a passage to hell.
While the original R.I.P.D. wasn’t a great film it was amusing and had some nice effects work. The sequel on the other hand is another production made by Universal 1440 Entertainment, the company’s straight-to-video bargain basement arm, so you can forget about effects beyond some cheap CGI.
And the script, by director Paul Leyden (Chick Fight, Cleaners) and co-writer Andrew Klein (MacGyver) is neither charming nor funny, relying on jokes like Pulsipher returning to Earth and landing in an outhouse or dodging the smallest buffalo stampede in film history only to be hit by a straggler. Not funny enough, how’s this? Although we see him in his pre-death form, everyone else sees the sheriff as a black woman, much to his horror. And to our horror it lets the writers pull out the “My best friend is black” line as if it’s the funniest thing in history
I don’t think I have to tell you that it turns out that the outlaws that killed our hero are possessed by evil spirits making his mission and his quest for revenge one and the same. One of the film’s few pluses is a scenery-chewing performance by Richard Brake (Vesper, The Munsters) as their leader. But as an action film, R.I.P.D. 2: Rise of the Damned isn’t much better than it is as a comedy.
The budget doesn’t allow for the kind of shootouts one would hope for in a western. In fact, none of the action scenes rise above the level of a low-budget indie film or basic cable TV show. Quick fights with very basic choreography, small-scale gunfights and very simple stunts. are all we get. It’s very disappointing not just compared to the original but compared to other 1440 films like Blade of the 47 Ronin.
I had hoped that R.I.P.D. 2: Rise of the Damned would be enjoyable nonsense like the original, and the old west setting was an added bonus. Unfortunately, a lousy script coupled with subpar action scenes and effects dooms it almost from the opening scenes. After this, it’s a pretty safe bet that this franchise will be left to rest in peace.
R.I.P.D. 2: Rise of the Damned will be released on November 15th. Universal Pictures Home Entertainment will make it available on DVD and Blu-ray and as a digital download. It will also premiere on Netflix the same day. If you’re looking for something similar, but hopefully better, FilmTagger has a few suggestions.