Main cast: Vin Diesel (Riddick), Matthew Nable (Boss Johns), Jordi Mollà (Santana), Katee Sackhoff (Dahl), Dave Bautista (Diaz), Bokeem Woodbine (Moss), Raoul Trujillo (Lockspur), Conrad Pla (Vargas), Nolan Gerard Funk (Luna), Danny Blanco Hall (Falco), Noah Danby (Nuñez), Neil Napier (Rubio), Andreas Apergis (Krone), Alex Branson (Lex Branman), and Karl Urban (Commander Vaako)
Director: David Twohy
When one’s movie career isn’t flying as high as one thinks it should, it is always a good idea to get back to the franchise that made one a star. That’s a common Hollywood rule, and one that Vin Diesel banks on with Riddick, which is basically a sequel only in the sense that it features the character that made its first appearance in Pitch Black and botched all goodwill in the bungling sequel The Chronicles of Riddick.
Not counting animated features and video games, this is a continuation of the series after nine years, but its plot can stand alone very well. It does, however, tries to recapture the claustrophobic “man against monsters” atmosphere of Pitch Black while ridding itself of the laughable “drama” aspects of The Chronicles of Riddick. It still doesn’t quite come together, though.
We start out with Riddick looking like death warmed over in an arid world that looks a lot like the one in Pitch Black. What happened?
Well, it has been five years since the events of the previous movie, and Riddick hasn’t been good in his role as the Lord Marshall of the Necromongers. He strikes a deal with Commander Vaako to hand over the leadership role in exchange for a ship to a place called Furya. Surprise, Vaako betrays him by sending him to this arid planet and having his men try to assassinate him instead! Riddick ends up at the bottom of a landslide.
Never mind, he does his tough macho guy act, and slowly recuperates as he beats off predators and even develop immunity to the venom of the local Mud Demons. He even adopts a dog-like creature. Together, with his hand-made weapons, they go all man vs wild on the Mud Demons until Riddick realizes that there is no way he can win them all. He decides to activate an emergency beacon to get some people over here and… well, real men don’t ask or pay for transportation, of course. He’d beat it out of them! These dolts naturally create such a commotion that they all end up either dead or in a desperate fight to shake off the Mud Demons and escape out of there.
Riddick takes a while to get interesting, as for the first third or so of this movie, it’s all about Vin Diesel acting like Bear Grylls on steroids. Since he’s not naked, I have a hard time finding any reason to care for these slow motion moments of him posturing and pouting for the close-up.
Things get heated up when more stereotypes show up for the party. Yay, more meat for the Mud Demons! The Mud Demons are nowhere as scary as the monsters in Pitch Black, as the early revelation of their appearance robs the movie of much of the claustrophobic terror that characterizes that movie. Also, there is a tough but human female character in that movie to balance Riddick’s admittedly boring “superhero that will never die” persona. Here, Riddick carries the show alone, but there is never any tension arising from the fact that he may die. Riddick isn’t invulnerable here, but I am too aware that he is far more capable than anyone else in this movie. It doesn’t help that he has some of the most laughable and cringe-inducing dialogues in this movie.
Still, it is better than the previous movie, although not by much, as Riddick is still a snoozefest of movie that delivers more eye-rolling posturing than anything else.