Riddick’s trajectory began in 2000’s ‘Pitch Black,’ a small sci-fi film involving a star-making turn for Diesel, who played a humanoid predator (with at least a modicum of morality) whose eyes could see in the dark. The unexpected success and cult status of this small-budget, filmed-in-Australia movie prompted a big-budget sequel in 2004’s ‘Chronicles of Riddick.’ Critically considered a disappointment, ‘Chronicles’ attempted a more detailed, but convoluted, storyline in which super-human Riddick defeats the leader of an army of Necromongers (a fanatical, death-focused race), whereby he becomes their new ruler.
‘Riddick’ picks up after ‘Chronicles,’ when the Necromongers unceremoniously dump and abandon their new, self-indulgent leader on a scrubby, yellow-tinged, largely uninhabited, unnamed planet filled with odd, and deadly, creatures. Survivalist Riddick, injured by a cliff collapse during his abandonment, is readily able to meet any challenge and quickly becomes a ‘MacGyver of medicine,’ using found and repurposed items to set his own bones (and later cauterize wounds, etc.). Largely without dialogue in his early planet arrival scenes, Riddick fights creepy snake monsters, overcomes native fauna, and even tames a zebra-wolf-dingo as his own doggie pet.
Soon, though, the alien-human hybrid extraordinaire seeks more than his spartan existence. He finds an outpost to (seemingly) purposefully set off an alarm to bring competing bounty hunters to the planet in order to vie for the monetary reward of apprehending (or killing) the famous convict. The rest of the film involves a battle between the two bounty-hunting groups (one seeking money, and the other seeking information about the past) to find the unstoppable Riddick before he tries to leave the planet.
The film seems to add little to the originality set forth thirteen years ago. Truly, it pales in comparison to ‘Pitch Black.’ Nevertheless, Vin Diesel, himself, continues to have great appeal given his gravelly voice, the popularity of his ‘Fast and Furious’ series, and his positive affirmations to his 46-million-plus followers on Facebook, but this outing is unable to capitalize on anything more than his muscular talent.
‘Riddick’ only occasionally brings forth a smirk or a glimmer of interest but never really moves Diesel’s character forward or gives the audience much to ponder. Ultimately, the movie plays out like an early childhood learn-to-read book (albeit one with a very gory visual bent): ‘Look at Riddick alone. Riddick needs a friend. Riddick finds a dog. Riddick plays hide and seek. And, go Riddick go.’
As such, it is entirely uncertain why this second sequel needed to be made. Even go-to players with their own cult followings, like female bounty hunter Dahl (Katee Sackhoff of ‘Battlestar Galactica’), can do very little to overcome the shortcomings of both the story and script. In all, Riddick is little other than ‘Riddick-ulous.’ ‘Riddick’ is rated 2 - of 5 stars (‘not recommended’).
‘Riddick’ is rated R for for ‘strong violence, language and some sexual content/nudity.’
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