With Riddick, Vin Diesel & David Twohy have taken their character ‘back to his roots’, which means casting aside the mythology that polluted Chronicles, and making something a lot closer to his first go-round, Pitch Black.
That film was a lean sci-fi thriller that riffed on Aliens and cast Riddick as a villain of sorts, who eventually emerged as an anti-hero. His character is problematic when he has to carry a whole film though, as it’s hard to keep rooting for a guy who acts not just like a psychopath, but also a real dick.
Riddick begins by stranding its hero on a hostile planet, leaving him to fend for himself against the elements and weird wildlife. This is the best section of the film, largely dialogue-free and with lots of alien beasties for Diesel to punch. At one point he ascends a hill in the nude for some reason, and is silhouetted against the alien moon. It’s a wonderfully silly image, like something from a Boris Vallejo painting, and sums up how the film is best when it embraces its pulp roots.
When Riddick sets off a distress signal and attracts two groups of bounty hunters, things go downhill a bit, as some ripe dialogue and downright bonkers sexual politics come into play. Still, the film continues to entertain, especially when there’s fighting and stunt work involved.
It’s been a while since our titular Furyan strapped on his goggles, and I’m not sure anyone was really clamouring for his return, but Riddick justifies its existence purely through a good sense of violent fun. If a scene where a man kicks a sword through another man’s face appeals as much to you as it did to me, you’ll find plenty to enjoy.