Trailer Face-Off: Filth vs. R.I.P.D.

Published May 15, 2013

Welcome to Thursday Trailer Face-Off, a feature in which we cast a critical eye on two similar upcoming film releases, pitting them against each other across a variety of categories to determine which is most deserving of your two hours. This week:  Filth vs. R.I.P.D., two movies about unusual police officers.

PremiseWhat if Men in Black was about people policing the dead instead of aliens? That’s the question the upcoming R.I.P.D.—also based on a comic book—asks. Our heroes are recently-deceased Nick Walker (Ryan Reynolds) and long-dead, Wyatt-Earp-lookalike Roy Pulsipher (a silly-acting Jeff Bridges). They also have avatars that range from a supermodel (Pulsipher appears to the living as Marissa Miller) to an older Asian-American man (Walker appears as James Hong). They bring the restless souls back from the realm of the living to where they belong. Everything goes relatively smoothly, until someone opens a door from the dead world to our own. “Bruce Robertson Pervert Alcoholic Psycho Rude & Cop” are the title cards in the trailer for Filth. The movie follows Robertson (James McAvoy) as he screws, drinks, fights, and toasts his way through what can charitably be described as a checkered career as a police officer. There aren’t many hints as to the actual plot of Filth, but whatever it is, it looks like a hell of a ride. Filth gets the edge because, while it does seem to be a more romping redux of Bad Lieutenant, it at least had the courtesy of changing its character’s accent.Advantage: Filth

Good Cop, Rad Cop“I vow to use my super-powers to uphold the principles of democracy and the enforcement of the law… never for selfish or evil ends!” That’s either the oath that every police officer takes when they join the force or something that Superman says. Either way, McAvoy’s Robertson does to that the same thing he does to the pavement outside of his car midway through the trailer: gets drunk and vomits all over it. Between choke sex with tattooed women, snorting lines of coke in front of a mirror, and saying he wants to be a part of police oppression, Robertson at least seems to be having some fun. Members of Heaven’s police force—by definition—don’t get to do the kind of sinning that makes a job like that fun. They do, however, get to shoot demons in the face with gold-plated revolvers.Advantage: R.I.P.D.

Sex AppealThere is something to be said for Ryan Reynolds and Jeff Bridges. Marissa Miller is almost disfiguringly pretty, and we’re guessing that even the played-for-laughs James Hong has more than his fair share of admirers. Still, this being America, and R.I.P.D. being a glorified Men in Black reboot, that sex appeal will remain purely theoretical. Then, there is Filth. In the first 20 seconds of the trailer, Robertson is being choked with a cord by a naked woman. Over the next minute, he goes on to sleep with two more women. As Robertson, James McAvoy looks like a younger, more coked-up Ewan McGregor, whose druggie visage has been staring out of the dorm room walls of the party kids since the release of Trainspotting in 1996. This is really no contest.Advantage: Filth

Joining UpR.I.P.D. posits that when you die, if you are an upstanding police officer, you get sent to the precinct office of Heaven, where a proctor (Mary-Louise Parker) is drinking soda and waiting to tell you the good news. That job you had on earth? It’s now yours for eternity. So much for that gold-watch retirement ceremony. Robertson, on the other hand, has a much more personal reason for joining the force: “Police oppression, brother.” “You wanted to stamp it out from the inside?” “No, I wanted to be a part of it.” Smiles, cheers, and on to more drinking, drug use, and vigorous casual sex. While nobody would condone joining the police force just so speeding laws don’t apply to you, R.I.P.D. essentially amounts to slave labor. And slavery? Not cool, man.Advantage: Filth

DirectorRobert Schwenke directed four features before R.I.P.D., ranging from the cover-your-eyes-awful Red to the still-keep-them-covered Flightplan. That being said, The Time Traveler’s Wife has its moments and R.I.P.D. looks to have a more engaging premise than all of his previous efforts put together. He’s an experienced director in the action comedy genre, without being too much of an artist; in other words, just the man you want to kick off your potential blockbuster franchise. Filth director Jon Baird is on his second feature, but was an associate producer on the sneakily good Green Street Hooligans, a solid British crime production. Advantage: Filth

The VerdictR.I.P.D. looks like dependable big-budget action fare in a summer full of just that. Whether or not it gets lost in the shuffle of superheroes and Star Trek remains to be seen, but if it does not, then you can look forward to seeing those characters again (and again, and again). Filth is a definite unknown, but looks like it could have some real moments. There’s an equal chance that you will walk out of the theater with your date and he or she will ask you why you thought seeing that movie was a good idea. It’s a coinflip, really, but life is full of chances.Winner: Filth

Trailer Face-Off runs every Thursday. For more, click here.