When Pitch Black made its appearance all those years ago, I’m sure director and writer David Twohy had no idea that it would become so popular that he’d end up making two sequels afterward. Two movies later, Richard B. Riddick is back in action in Riddick, a decently worthy sequel and massive improvement over The Chronicles of Riddick. Twohy scales back in the third installment of his successful franchise. He harkens back to the days of the original and simplifies the plot so that Riddick is watered down enough without being a jumbled mess of events that the second one turned out to be.
Five years after its predecessor, Riddick (Vin Diesel) ends up trapped on an uninhabited planet with nothing to rely on but himself. He is, for five years, the unintentional leader of the Necromongers. They don’t like him and he’s let his guard down after living in civilization for so long. In an attempt to find his lost home world, Furya, Commander Vaako (Karl Urban)—whose brief appearance is the only main tie to the previous film—gives Riddick a ship and then has a member of his people leave him on the planet that is decidedly not Furya to die. This solves Vaako’s problem. He’s now the leader of the Necromongers and Riddick is a wanted man again.
The film creates a lot of parallels and similarities to the first installment. Different planet, different creatures and cast, but essentially very similar storylines. That could be a good and bad thing for fans who may or may not have liked the last film.
The film introduces us to two new merc teams into the fold, both out for Riddick’s head. One of the teams is led by a man named Johns (Matt Nable) and the other by Santana (Jordi Molla). Johns seeks to find answers for what happened to his son ten years ago while Santana just wants Riddick dead for the bounty. What they both don’t know is that something more lethal than Riddick is headed their way.
The creature designs are exceptionally fantastic. The hydra-esque creatures in the film are remiss of other sci-fi genre animals. They’re both fascinating and lethal at the same time. Twohy takes what he knows the audience wants to see, strips Riddick down to the survival basics and instincts, and throws it into the mix. The result is an almost methodical cat and mouse chase between the mercs and Riddick, who is always two steps ahead of the rest.
The cast is diverse in personalities, from Spanish actor Jordi Molla to Battlestar Galactica alum Katee Sackhoff, they all play off of each other well. There are stare-downs, meltdowns, and testosterone-fueled competition. Sackhoff is particularly a standout in her tough girl act. She can most certainly hold her own as she kicks some ass. The best part about the film is that it doesn’t try too hard or try doing too much like The Chronicles of Riddick. Instead of being all over the place in terms of plot, this film zooms in on Riddick and really exhausts the resources of his character.
Ultimately, fans of the first two films will be pleased with Diesel’s latest foray into the killer world of Riddick. Mostly, it will appease the Pitch Black fans since the events of the last film are completely glossed over and no one knows what happened to the Necromongers and their Underverse after they drop Riddick. The film does get a bit tedious in its first half as we watch Riddick navigate through his new environment and then play scare-the-mercs in the second half, but Riddick still manages to be entertaining nonetheless.