David Twohy’s “Riddick” is an attempt at reviving the Riddick franchise that received some modest acclaim from the film “Pitch Black” and the video game “The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay”. The film does a good job of bringing the brooding antihero back into the spotlight, but not in any way that will pull in new fans to the Riddick universe.
Richard B. Riddick (who will be referred to as Dick Riddick from this point on) is having a bad day. After a short career as ruler of the necromongers, Dick is betrayed and left for dead on a barren planet. Vin Diesel grumbles and growls through all of the trials and tribulations that the planet’s ecosystem has in store for him long enough to activate an emergency beacon that brings ruthless mercenaries. Dick is an escaped convict with a large bounty on his head and he needs a ship. The planet’s inhabitants are looking for food, preferably human. Nobody is on Dick’s side.
Vin Diesel does his part as Dick. He is always the menacing character on screen, even when he’s captured by the mercenaries in the later half of the movie. Not even the computer-generated wildlife appears daunting while Diesel is there. That is the highest compliment I have. Main characters that are supposed to be intimidating and brooding often fall short because their appearance does not fit the role. Diesel has played Dick across three of the films and in both of the Riddick video games so the two are synonymous and it would be awkward to see someone else fill those shoes.
This in an action movie and Vin Diesel is a renowned (eh) action star, but this movie is not very exciting. Slashing through mercenaries and monsters with ease is never suspenseful, tense, or practical. It is the flashy kind of action that is supposed to be cool but oversteps into the realm of cheesy. Unnecessary flips and flourishes, kicking a machete across a room to cut a mercenary’s head off, jumps that defy everything you know about physics, etc. etc.
The action is not the only thing that is cheesy either. The dialogue is alright when you consider the genre. However, one element of the movie still has me torn. I don’t know whether I should laugh at it or roll my eyes until they fall out of my head. Katee Sackhoff plays Dahl (pronounced Doll. The female lead’s name is Doll), a strong merc who also happens to be a lesbian…until Dick comes along. He is so manly, so bulky, so absolutely heart-throbbing that not even lesbians can resist Dick’s Riddick. Not to mention that Dick says maybe four or five sentences to her throughout the entire movie, one of which is how he is going to have sex with her and another being about her nipples (swoon).
Riddick is fun if you don’t think about it. It succeeds in a couple of ways and old fans of the Chronicles of Riddick universe that has built its lore across four films, two video games, and a handful of novelizations will be happy with the result.
Rating: 2.5 out of 5