Directed by David Twohy.
Starring Vin Diesel, Katee Sackhoff, Jordi Molla, Matthew Nable, Bokeem Woodbine, Dave Bautista, and Nolan Gerard Funk.
Betrayed and left for dead on a desolate planet, Riddick fights for survival against alien predators before activating a homing beacon that sees bounty hunters from throughout the galaxy descending on his location, only to find themselves pawns in his greater scheme for revenge.
Nine years after last donning the goggles, Vin Diesel is back for a third outing as the escaped convict, murderer and antihero Richard B. Riddick as he and writer-director David Twohy strip back the bloated excesses of The Chronicles of Riddick and look to revitalise the franchise by returning to its Pitch Black roots with the sci-fi survival horror Riddick.
During a scouting trip to locate Furya, Riddick finds himself stranded on a sun-scored, barren world after a botched assassination attempt by one of Commander Vaako’s (Karl Urban) aides. Severely wounded, Riddick’s particular skill set is put to the test as he fends off horde after horde of alien beasts, before reaching a mercenary station where he activates a homing beacon in an attempt to lure a ship to the planet. Soon two separate groups arrive: a ragtag group of mercs headed up by the violent, unpredictable Santana (Jordi Molla) who want Riddick dead (he’s worth double dead), and a professional team of bounter hunters led by Boss Johns (Matthew Nable), who have a personal interest taking him alive. But of course it’s only a matter of time before the hunters become the prey and Riddick starts picking them off one by one…
In terms of story, there’s absolutely no depth or originality in Riddick, even discounting the similarities with Pitch Black, and there’s very little in the way of character progression either. Still, that’s not to say it’s not an entertaining enough watch, and in fairness, it provides pretty much what you’d expect – bloody kills, bad language, boobs, and even the odd bit of humour. It’s at its strongest during the first act, as Riddick sets about surveying – and surviving – his terrain, with Diesel delivering a solid, if somewhat by-the-numbers performance. However, while things should pick up when the mercs arrive, that’s actually where the film starts to lose its way, shifting much of its focus towards a bunch of generic, one-dimensional characters playing out scenes we’ve seen a million times before. Diesel just about carries it through, but it does start to drag a bit towards the end and could really have done with trimming 15 minutes or so from its unnecessary 119 minute running time.
Despite falling some way short of Pitch Black, Riddick is a huge improvement over The Chronicles of Riddick, and the decision to strip things back and revert to R-rated territory certainly helped to breathe some life into this ailing sci-fi series. Fans of the franchise will find much to enjoy here, and for anyone just looking for a couple of hours of mindless entertainment, Riddick is definitely worth a watch.
Flickering Myth Rating - Film: ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★
Gary Collinson is a writer and lecturer from the North East of England. He is the editor-in-chief of FlickeringMyth.com and the author of Holy Franchise, Batman! Bringing the Caped Crusader to the Screen.