In the third installment of this franchise, Vin Diesel proves once again that he cannot act his way off of a hostile planet and that his career peaked in “Saving Private Ryan.” Still, as far as dangerous worlds to inhabit, at least this one in Riddick is better than the one in “After Earth.” In fact, this FILM is better than “After Earth,” but then again, so is a bad case of hemorrhoids, so . . .
Continuing from the first movie, “Pitch Black” and 2004’s “The Chronicles of Riddick,” Riddick reunites writer/director David Twohy (who was not only responsible for writing those, but “G.I. Jane,” as well) and titular character Diesel (who has made such a cultural impact in the Fast and Furious franchise). Basically, this is just a remake of the first installment, which makes a valiant attempt to capture the dark, brooding atmosphere and return Diesel to his anti-hero roots that kicked off the series.
For the most part, Twohy succeeds, although success can be measured in many ways, mostly through box office revenues, which remain to be seen. (Sequels made after two years have a poor track record — and this comes a decade after the last one). Plot-wise, Riddick is still trapped on the inhospitable planet (sans humans, but plenty of alien creatures who would like nothing better than to make an in-between meal snack of our intrepid hero). He’s been left for dead since the last picture (although with Diesel, it’s difficult to tell if he’s really alive or not), and — to top it off — a huge storm is on the way which will bring even more danger, if that’s conceivable.
Riddick isn’t as dumb as he appears and soon realizes his only hope for survival is to escape from this deadly world. He takes the first step by activating an emergency beacon, which only alerts two different groups of bounty hunters who land on the planet looking to capture and/or kill him to collect their reward.
The first ship produces Santana (Jordi Mollà, “Colombiana“) and a group of ultra violent mercenaries, while the second craft contains “Boss Johns” (Matt Nable, “Killer Elite“), who has been hunting him for years. Armed only with his wits (uh oh, he’s in big trouble) and a pet that resembles a poorly CGIed tiger/dog combination, Riddick must not only battle these groups and avoid being lunch, but escape the previously-mentioned maelstrom, as well.
Mollà, who spends most of his screen time screaming and spewing saliva all over the place is so comically over-the-top, laughs are induced every time he appears; while Nable is so nondescript he could have telegraphed his role in. Consequently, I have to admit (reluctantly, of course) that the best job is done by the growling, scowling and, at times, almost incomprehensible Diesel (which is like admitting that Hitler guy wasn’t such a bad egg), although his best work takes place within the first 15 minutes of Riddick, where little, if any, dialogue is uttered.
With the appropriate amount of gore, fight scene after fight scene, man-eating monstrosities that only come out at night, a sequence where Riddick tries to convert a lesbian to his team and an approaching hurricane, one would think this film is jam-packed with spine-tingling excitement. One could not be more mistaken, however. The movie slows down (to let baby aliens cross the street, no doubt) and then takes too much time to build momentum back up — and it’s not really worth the wait. However, if one does not value quality entertainment too much or has spent the last decade pining for this sequel or is a 14-year old boy who thinks Barney Rubble is a great actor, then, by all means, pay full price to see Riddick. Everyone else can just wait until it comes out on cable or satellite and totally ignore it for absolutely nothing.