The third installment in the "Riddick" series isn’t a climatic capstone or anything like that. It’s just a solid 119 minutes that gives Vin Diesel a chance to reinvigorate another franchise he started out in.
Riddick (Diesel) has been left for dead on a random planet filled with vicious creatures. As he maneuvers through mountainous terrain, he locates an outpost equipped with a distress signal. Since he’s still the most wanted man in the universe, he allows the beacon to scan his identity, knowing full-well that bounty hunters will answer to collect the enormous payday on his head (dead or alive). Thing is, Riddick wants them to descend on a planet – that has a horrid secret – for he plans on snagging their ship by any means necessary.
It’s a paper-thin premise all the way through, yet it manages to keep your interest due to the pacing and decent performances from the entire body count (cast). Think of B-movies such as "Conan the Barbarian" (Schwarzenegger era), "Mad Max" or, uh, the first entry into the franchise, 2000’s "Pitch Black." Director David Twohy, who helmed each Riddick installment, splices the first two flicks together by taking the story arc of Part I and the aesthetics of Part II. Nothing evolves from the previous entries, but the methodical way the titular character stalks his prey and is always two-steps ahead in planning, is engaging to behold; especially during the opening National Geographic-type sequences where no words are spoken as Riddick deals with the desolate planet’s wildlife.
Once humans enter the script – a blend of mercenaries and bounty hunters, the dynamics and/or psychology of the film change to what fans of the character would like to see. And while the blunt, crafty, and bloody kills Riddick enacts are pleasing in an “Oh, damn!” kind of way, the rare hand-to-hand, or hand-to-creature, combative scenes are captured poorly through the lens (zoomed-in and shaky) and seem underdeveloped. The latter behavior also crept into the dialogue during the final act, for it becomes laughable, cheesy, and just flat-out lame. Plus the energy levels of this never really increased from the thoughtful opening; therefore, it just came across as formulaic and uninspired once the obvious happens.
In the end, Riddick has a subtle storytelling method that draws you in despite a familiar pattern as seen in its predecessors. Vin Diesel is on-point with the reprising of a role that helped launch his career, even though there’s a Lassie portion that drags early on. Fans of the series will get what they want while others will simply leave the theater saying, “Eh, not bad.”
Riddick is rated R and opens in the Tampa Bay market on September 6th.