Release Date: Sept. 6, 2013
Running Time: 118 minutes
“I don’t know how many times I’ve been crossed off the list and been left for dead,” growls Vin Diesel at the beginning ofRiddick, the third film to feature the action star’s escaped con with the shine job. Diesel’s one-man killing machine mutters this after being left for dead on a desolate planet by the treacherous Necromongers, whom we last saw bowing before him as their leader at the end of The Chronicles of Riddick. However, Diesel appears to be wagging a finger at those who wrote off his pre-Fast and the Furious franchise after The Chronicles of Riddick failed to build on the success of its predecessor, Pitch Black. Diesel clearly has a deep affection for Riddick because he secured films right to the character in exchange for his cameo in The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift, and then leveraged his house to help fund this $38 million indie production. Take that, Kickstarter. It’s always evident in Riddick that Diesel relishes the cat-and-mouse game he plays with the two teams of bounty hunters that he lures to an outpost on the planet the Necromongers led him to believe was his home world Furya. One team wants his head; the other needs information about the events that occurred in Pitch Black. Riddick just wants off the planet, with his head still on his shoulders. Then there are the planet’s inhospitable inhabitants, who descend upon the outpost with the intention of feasting on the bounty hunters. For most ofRiddick, Diesel hides in the dark, waiting to make his move. When he emerges to confront his quarry, he’s grinning like the Cheshire Cat and armed with a quip that’s meant to cut deeper than his makeshift spear. Writer/director David Twohy doesn’t hold back from the blood and gore like he had to with The Chronicles of Riddick, which was a PG-13 affair because of its $100 million budget. He brings back to Riddick the tension that made Pitch Black stand out from all the other Alien-inspired sci-fi chillers of the past three decades. Also, Twohy reveals more of Riddick’s humane side through his relationship with a dog-like creature that serves as both companion and protector. As you may have already deduced, the lean, mean Riddick is closer in spirit to Pitch Black than The Chronicles of Riddick. In fact, there are times when Riddick plays like Pitch Black pumped up on steroids. It’s clear Diesel and Twohy want to continue the story that began with The Chronicle of Riddick, which was by far one of the most ambitious sequels in recent memory. While its understandable that some may consider The Chronicle of Riddick to be a bloated space opera, Diesel and Twohy went out of their way to make a true sequel, with its own distinguish story, not one that simply replicated its predecessor. With Riddick, Diesel and Twohy can be accused of remaking Pitch Black, and this appears to be a function of working with about one-third of the budget that they had for The Chronicles of Riddick. Dropping Riddick into a familiar situation, and telling a story about the survival of the fittest as Diesel and Twohy did with Pitch Black, is a safe way to reintroduce a compelling character whose previous adventure didn’t strike a chord with mainstream audiences. It’s a stopgap measure, and if Riddick scores with theFast and Furious crowd, the next installment will surely see Riddick resuming his quest to find Furya. While it’s evident that Riddick is a means to an end, that doesn’t mean it comes across as a cynical attempt by Diesel and Twohy to revive a dormant franchise. Their passion to write new chapters in the chronicles of Riddick overwhelms this sequel. With Riddick, they have put themselves in a position where they may be able to achieve their goal.
Aired: Sept. 5, 2013
Web site: https://www.facebook.com/Riddick