Ryan Reynolds’ Absolute Worst Movie Is Streaming Right Now

Ryan Reynolds has made a notorious number of flops in his career, but this one is objectively the very worst of them.

By Nathan Kamal | Published

ryan reynolds

Ryan Reynolds is one of the most popular actors in the world, but he has never exactly been respected. After years of the trenches of sitcom television and gross-out comedies, he finally managed to claw his way to leading man status, only to find himself the star of a number of historic bombs. These days, he is sharing billing with Dwayne Johnson and Gal Gadot, has a lucrative relationship with Netflix, and will soon be appearing in the Marvel Cinematic Universe as Deadpool, but the stench of those old flops never seems to quite fade. The single worst of those is 2013’s R.I.P.D. The supernatural buddy cop movie has a 12% on Rotten Tomatoes, making it the single lowest-rated movie in Ryan Reynolds’ filmography and it is currently streaming on HBO Max. 

R.I.P.D. stars Ryan Reynolds as Boston Police detective Nick Walker, who can be more accurately described as Detective Stock Character. He gets involved in a little dirty cop business with his partner Kevin Bacon, who quickly betrays and murders him. Ryan Reynolds gets sucked into a CGI vortex, then Mary-Louise Parker shows up as the supervisor of the Rest in Peace Department (R.I.P.D., get it?), the organization of deceased cops who track down and monitor escaped spirits on Earth. Ryan Reynolds is partnered with Jeff Bridges, an Old West lawman who still keeps the affectations of six-shooters and a duster, to presumably comic effect. Also, the escaped spirits are called “Deados.”

On paper, R.I.P.D. looks like a no-brainer. Jeff Bridges had won a long-awaited Academy Award for Crazy Heart only a few years earlier and had signaled via the attempted reboot Tron: Legacy and True Grit that he was up for both high-concept CGI fests and some more cowboy stuff. Buddy cop movies never really go out of vogue, and a supporting cast with ringers like Kevin Bacon (committed as always to doing his sardonic, sleazy best) and Mary-Louise Parker (filling in for Jodie Foster). It was also based on a comic book of the same name by established screenwriter Peter M. Lenkov. If anything, Ryan Reynolds was the weak link in this particular chain. 

ryan reynolds

But really, the problem with R.I.P.D. is not Ryan Reynolds, Jeff Bridges hamming it up, or the frequently dodgy CGI. The problem is that the movie is a barely disguised Men in Black knock-off, down to the shiny brutalist design of the R.I.P.D. headquarters, the police-style questioning of bizarre creatures disguised as humans (why human souls become weird monsters is not very well explained, but moving on), and a whole lot of humor based on Ryan Reynolds being surprised by this strange new realm he finds himself in while an older, grizzled actor exudes gravitas. Barry Sonnenfeld is probably owed some royalties for this one (not to mention the writers who came up with the actual Men in Black comic book).

But Ryan Reynolds is not Will Smith and not even the MIB franchise could sustain itself forever, petering out with the meh of 2012’s Men in Black 3 (which Tommy Lee Jones could barely be bothered to show up for. A year later, a knock-off like R.I.P.D. did not really have a chance. While Ryan Reynolds and Jeff Bridges have tolerable chemistry, the story never really rises above “get the MacGuffin” territory (in this case, a golden staff that can reverse the flow of the dead to the afterlife) and the humor never tries harder than the repeated bit that Ryan Reynolds appears to living humans as legendary Chinese-American character actor James Hong and Jeff Bridges is Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition model Marisa Miller. 

R.I.P.D. sank like a stone at the box office, grossing $78 million on a huge $130 million budget. Clearly, critics did not find a lot to redeem it and while Universal Pictures likely had franchise ambitions, this particular Ryan Reynolds vehicle went nowhere. R.I.P.D. joined the likes of Green Lantern, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, and Criminal in the ranks of Ryan Reynolds flops that have turned him into a valuable resource for other panicking actors. Fortunately, just a few years later, he would get his very own enormously successful franchise with Deadpool, so we can probably consider the casket closed on R.I.P.D.