Riddick (2013)
Riddick (2013)

Genre: Sci-Fi Adventure Running Time: 1 hr. 59 min.

Release Date: September 6th, 2013 MPAA Rating: R

Director: David Twohy Actors: Vin Diesel, Jordi Molla, Matt Nable, Katee Sackhoff, Dave Bautista, Bokeem Woodbine, Raoul Trujillo, Conrad Pla, Karl Urban

 


 

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eft for dead yet again, Riddick (Vin Diesel) finds himself stranded on a smoldering desert planet, bloodied, bruised, and nursing a broken leg. Although he quickly finds water, it isn’t potable. And the indigenous life is, once again, inhospitable; vulture-like birds, alien hyenas, and mutant eels are desperate for a fresh meal. It also isn’t apparent how he transitioned from accidental ascension to the throne of galactic conquerors (at the close of the previous installment) to abandonment on a desolate wasteland.

“There are bad days … and then there are legendary bad days.” With a few flashbacks, it’s soon detailed that after being crowned the new Lord Marshal of the necromongers, Riddick was betrayed by Commander Vaako (Karl Urban), who had always thirsted for leadership. With the added backstabbing of henchman Krone (Andreas Apergis), Riddick is taken not to his homeworld of Furya, but to a godforsaken rock in the middle of nowhere. After educating himself on the natural predators of his environment, he manages to locate a steady supply of food, rescue a puppy, fashion weapons and a shelter, and defeat the massive reptile that guards the only path to a civilization that exists beyond his barren prison.

The scope of this third theatrical episode has reverted back to one of simplicity and solitude. The space-opera styling of “The Chronicles of Riddick” has now been reduced to a lone planet, no space traveling, and few characters. At the start, it feels as if a reimagining of “Pitch Black,” though lengthy scenes of the protagonist playing with his domesticated alien dog give the typically emotionless title persona a softer side. The bulk of the story, however, eventually becomes a battle between Riddick and competing teams of bounty hunters, hoping to acquire the wanted man’s head in a box; a one-man-army against waves of heavily-armed soldiers-of-fortune. One motley faction is led by the stone-cold Santana (Jordi Molla), while the other, more organized, uniform, better equipped group is governed by Johns (Matt Nable).

“Remember; he could be anywhere.” Riddick actually works best when involved in smaller stories, especially here when he becomes a Rambo or Snake Plissken, or like the protagonists of “Commando” and “Under Siege.” One-dimensional mercenaries line up to be taken down by the crafty, calculating he-man. Some of the best moments arrive even when Riddick isn’t onscreen; his skills with designing traps and manipulating his opponents through mind games are quite entertaining.

Unfortunately, there are a few sloppy instances of sabotage and theft that stretch the limits of belief. Had the film stuck solely to intelligent tradecraft, it would have been far more effective. Nevertheless, the combination of action, intermittent comic relief (including Riddick’s tough-guy one-liners), practical gore, and extraterrestrial combat (in the rain, no less, duplicating the conflicts in “Pitch Black,” which is perhaps what writer/director David Twohy wanted – to redo his original film with a larger budget and technical polish) makes for a frivolous yet fun diversion.

– Mike Massie

  • 5/10