Release date: September 6, 2013
Directed by: David Twohy
Written by: David Twohy, Oliver Butcher, and Stephen Cornwell
Official site: riddickmovie.com
Vin Diesel will say that "Riddick" is for his fans that have been there from the beginning. Hopefully it's out of his system now, because this movie, the third in the series that begain in 2001 with "Pitch Black", is a sloppy mess that begs the great question, "Is there any reason at all for this series to continue?".
The film opens with a monotone voice over from anti-hero John Riddick (Vin Diesel), as he lies covered in rubble, the aftermath of an attempt on his life that leaves him stranded on an unknown and dangerous planet. For the entire first act of the film, Riddick is a one man show, unless you count the weird alien dog-like creature he befriends as he fights for survival in an environment where everything wants a piece of him.
As a deadly storm closes in, Riddick finds himself in need of getting off the planet and sends out a beacon, knowing that some surly bounty hunters are sure to come collect the bounty on his head. Two crews show up, one led by Santana (Jordi Mollà), the other led by Boss Johns (Matt Nable). Santana's crew literally wants Riddick's head, while Johns' crew wants answers about the death of Johns's son, a tieback to the movie that kicked this series off.
The plot is pretty thin, even for a cheesy sci-fi movie. It's a story of survival, allowing Vin Diesel to do what he does best. In this case, that's crouch mysteriously on top of rocks and ships, say cool things and kill people in new and ridiculous ways. The problem is when director David Twohy tries to tie everything into the previous films, "Pitch Black" and "The Chronicles of Riddick". The expositional flashbacks needed to make sense are confusing and feel thrown in at the last moment to make the audience feel as if it's all going somewhere -- for example a cameo by Karl Urban, who played Vaako in "Chronicles".
Then there are the surrounding characters, who interrupt what could have been an interesting movie about survival and self-reflection if they had just stuck with the Riddick playing "Castaway" vibe that develops over the first 40 mins. Unfortunately, the rest of the humans, who are supposed to help provided character development, are poorly written wooden characters, spewing typically dumb and wooden dialogue.
Worst of the bunch is sci-fi geek poster girl Katee Sackhoff playing a lesbian soldier, who is there for nothing else other than to punch a guy in the face a few times, take her top off, and prove Riddicks' manlihood by apparently switching teams. It's a ridiculous and unnecessary development, that overshadows the rest of the awful characters, one of which is a young guy that appears to be some kind of religious type person
This is clearly a movie for fans of Vin Diesel and the movie that made him a star. Some forget that he made "Pitch Black" before all of the "Fast and the Furious" movies. The action is good, and thankfully during the final act it gets back to its roots as everyone tries to flee the planet when they get attacked by the alien threat. But viewers who are just now checking in are likely to find themselves lost or uninterested or both.
Unfortunately, this movie seems to forget that its supposed to be a mindless sci-fi action flick and tries a little to hard to add depth to these so-called characters. John Riddick is proof that sometimes a mysterious character is more interesting because you don't know anything about him.
Of course, that may be because the less we know, the less explanation we need about his powers, abilities, etc. that seem to come and go depending on what the flimsy script calls for. Even the goggles, which sometimes help him to see and sometimes don't, are starting to make less sense as these movies progress.
After three movies, that'll do, Vin.
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