There really isn’t much more to say about “Riddick” than what the title character utters after crash landing on an alien planet. “This ain’t nothing new. I’ve been crossed off the list plenty of times, but I keep coming back.” With a rehashed plot, an uninteresting performance by star Vin Diesel, and a schlocky script that dares to tiptoe the line between B and C-grade storytelling, the third installment of David Twohy’s (The Perfect Getaway) sci-fi fantasy series is definitely a film that brings nothing new to theaters and is best to be crossed off the list for good.
Taking place on a distant planet that resembles Star Wars’ Tatooine going through puberty, Twohy spends the majority of the first act highlighting the wonderful CGI handiwork involved in creating such a bubbly, steamy, puss sore of a space rock. From rolling white hills to chiseled rock faces, the L.A. born and raised director seems more concerned with the look of his nameless planet than the humans inhabiting it.
Twohy’s infatuation with special effect heavy eye candy continues once aliens are introduced. Dog-bat hybrids. Snake-crab monsters. Hawk-eyed dragon things. These creations are all pleasing to watch every once in awhile, but what about Riddick? When does he get to tell his story? I mean the movie is called “Riddick” after all. Aren’t we supposed to learn more about him than the fact that he can see perfectly in the dark, and he is wanted for murder — which have already been thoroughly discussed in the two previous films?
Sadly, besides a few hackneyed flashbacks to a distant time and place when he is backstabbed by his onetime best friend Vaako (Carl Urban) and exiled to the aforementioned alien world, we don’t delve too much more into what makes Riddick tick as an anti-hero.
Just like in “Pitch Black”, the audience is treated to about two hours of Vin Diesel bringing a whole lot of pain and suffering to both human and alien species. Don’t get me wrong, watching the buff actor literally slice the intestines out of a 10-foot long space slug is fun for about five minutes, but it’s pretty hard to centralize an entire movie around a guy who is basically a god amongst men. If mindless, hilariously over the top violence is your thing, however, then “Riddick” will definitely satisfy your thirst for gore. For everyone else, Twohy’s plot will only infuriate.
Even when two space ships filled with deadly mercenaries land on the bleak planet looking to put the wanted-for-murder Riddick’s head in a box, he really doesn’t seem to care. He knows he is going to get what he wants in the end, so there is no use in trying to show any other emotion besides nonchalance. Diesel’s performance, on the other hand, crosses more into apathy. The few talking moments Riddick is given, especially, are about as inspiring as a prerecorded solicitation message from Bank of America.
With Riddick being characterized as an unflinching demigod, the steam punk styled crew of mercenaries out to hunt him down is given the responsibility to engage the audience in ways the title character cannot. Twohy’s script fails in this regard as well. Co-stars Jordi Molla (Colombiana), Matt Nable (Killer Elite), and Katee Sackhoff (Longmire) try their best to salvage the jagged, forced for laughs dialogue, but just like their characters, are ultimately left for dead on a deserted planet.
“Riddick” is, to say the least, a ridiculous motion picture. In fact, all of its tongue-in-cheek punch lines, way too bloody death sequences, and oodles of lazily placed CGI aliens spawned a sensation unlike any inside my soul. In short, I couldn’t believe what I was watching was actually part of a movie distributed by Universal Pictures.
By David Morris