Director: Robert Schwentke (2013)

This misfiring celestial cop caper should be locked up for a long time – for crimes against cinema.

Corrupt cop Nick Walker (Ryan Reynolds) is shot dead by a colleague over some ill-gotten gold.

Halfway to the afterlife he is offered redemption if he joins the RIPD (Rest In Peace Department) – a supernatural police force tasked with ridding Earth of “deados” – spirits hiding there hoping to evade judgment.

Walker is coerced into a partnership with Wild West sheriff Roy Pulsipher (Jeff Bridges), forming a demonically dull duo who share no tangible chemistry.

In many ways Reynolds is perfectly cast as a spook as it’s difficult to register his presence – while Bridges indulges himself and provides a pantomime performance.

Being dead and therefore indestructible adds lack of tension to the film’s extensive charge sheet – which includes ropey special effects, excessive use of formulaic scriptwriting and failing to provide wit, logic or excitement.

Action scenes are directed in a video-game style and the voice-over and flashbacks at the beginning smack of desperate editing to add some energy to the lacklustre and limp proceedings.

To disguise themselves from living loved ones (such as Walker’s wife) the pair appear to everyone as an elderly Chinese man and a glamorous blonde woman.

The script fails to do anything interesting with this idea and then forgets about it whenever it’s inconvenient.

Despite ascension imagery and allusions to paradise and the referencing of the staff of Jacob: God, the devil, heaven and hell are conspicuously not mentioned – presumably to avoid offending any religious types who may be watching. But there’s more chance of your sense of humour being offended by the paucity of fun on offer.

The pair pursue Walker’s killer and former partner Bobby Hayes (Kevin Bacon) and uncover a deado plot to take over the world.

Bacon seems to being enjoying himself and Mary-Louise Parker is nicely spikey presence. There’s occasionally some interesting imagery but even that looks purloined from A Life Less Ordinary or The Last Action Hero.

The detectives are suspended from the case after a deado escapes due to their incompetence.

With only 24 hours before hell literally breaks loose, the pair predictably go rogue and set about saving the world.

But they can’t also save this action comedy which is dead behind the eyes.


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