“RIDDICK” (Movie Review)
If you recall, we first met Richard Riddick, an extreme survivalist Furyan with hyper sensitive eyes that aid him to see in the dark at long distances, in the modern cult favorite PITCH BLACK. PITCH BLACK became an underground hit with its mix of action and gory kills but its sequel, 2004’s THE CHRONICLES OF RIDDICK moved on to a much bigger canvas with more sci-fi elements and a decidedly less hardcore PG-13 rating. That film left Furyan fans wondering if a third film would bring back what made PITCH BLACK work so well.
And they won’t be disappointed with this latest helping, practically a reboot of the series. RIDDICK is back to being a hard-R and is very much an 80s-style throwback in terms of gore and action. You can feel the influence of ALIENS—larger than life guns and testosterone fueled dialogue—all over. It’s clear Diesel was born to play this role, lending a presence strong enough to hold the film together almost completely on his own.
The film begins with Riddick stranded. In flashbacks, we learn he is betrayed Necromongers and left for dead on this unnamed, desolate planet. In this rugged, brutal terrain he regains his sense of self, and finding a companion in some alien wolf/zebra-like creature. He realizes that being King of the Necromongers had corrupted his soul, so Riddick literally strips down to nothing and begins again, planning his escape to finally get back to Furya. His isolation isn’t for too long however as he is targeted by two groups of bounty hunters, one led by creepy Santana (Jordi Mollà) and the other by Boss Johns (Matt Nable). Santana and his team want Riddick for the cash but Boss Johns has a different plan for him that is much more personal. Riddick of course plays both sides to his advantage in a game of deadly cat and mouse.
There is no question that Riddick is going to have everything go his way at every turn and that is what makes this romp just pure fun, a ride. That’s except for Dahl (BATTLESTAR GALACTICA’S Katee Sackhoff), Boss John’s second-in-command and Riddick’s somewhat love interest. Unfortunately, their potential relationship treads into sexist/misogynistic territory, making it a major misstep in the movie.
While talk of RIDDICK being a smaller film than the previous CHRONICLES is somewhat true, it certainly doesn’t look and feel low budget (if you can call $40 million bucks low budget). What’s interesting about this latest installment of the franchise is how clean and simple it is from a story perspective. The filmmakers were looking to go back to basics and there, succeeded.