RIDDICK Movie Review: Fun and Problematic

Vin Diesel once again plays the tough as nails titular anti-hero in this somewhat by the numbers, yet solid actioner, RIDDICK.  Richard B. Riddick (Diesel), convicted killer and target practice for the galaxy’s mercs, finds himself the recently deposed Grand Marshall of the Necromonger Empire.  Now, stranded on a backwater planet that is clearly not Furya, Riddick not only has to fight to stay alive, he has to do so grievously wounded.

The local wildlife naturally takes a shining to our broken-bodied sinner and there are some sequences that serve to remind us why we love him so.  The man is Grade-A unfiltered bad-ass.  Some of the things that he does to stay off the menu proves that Riddick is not just an animal, he’s a chess player thinking five moves ahead. Chuck in the excited titters of the feminine half every time he opens his gravely voice and you understand the appeal of the character.

Some of the other things that RIDDICK does right are the mercs themselves.  Two opposing teams, both with very different goals for our hero, face off with each other, setting off a chain of events that allows him to do what he does best. I found myself chuckling at the antics of merc leader Santana (Jordi Molla), a man who manages to strike a delicate balance between murderous and comedic.

Character development is given a big shout out this go round. While RIDDICK borrows plot elements from PITCH BLACK, (not a bad thing), Vin has been getting into some serious acting in the time since, honing his skill set. He manages to bring out a hardbitten tenderness in Riddick that we haven’t seen before. His relationship with a dingo-like creature shows a caring we couldn’t get out of him in PITCH BLACK, some 13 years ago.

The other mercenary leader, Boss (Matt Nable), has a legit long-standing grudge against Riddick, and at one point in time has every opportunity to kill him, but chooses not to.  Things are not as they seem, but it’s a twist you could see coming a mile away if you’ve been paying any sort of attention.  I feel there was a missed opportunity with the usage of Dahl, (Katee Sackhoff) the sole female merc.  Most of her scenes seemed sexually gratuitous and badly written.  It’s a gripe I have whenever we have ladies with guns on screen.  Still, she made it work with what little she was given by the writers.  I pray that somebody gets this right in the future.

RIDDICK started to get tighter in the midst of the 3rd act, as all hell breaks loose with things-that-go-bump-in-the-night-but-only-when-its-raining assortment of sabre toothed beasties.  These things are out for blood, and things get even more formulaic from there on.  I wanted to see Riddick go bad-ass again, but his RIDDICK-ulous skills in battle get downplayed a tad too much for the R rating.  By the end , I was left wondering as Riddick had in the beginning, “When did I lose my edge?” All in all, I had a great time and the ending left me wanting more.  Hardcore fans will be satisfied and newbies will be drawn in as well, given the open ending.  This entrant into the series climbs head and shoulders above CHRONICLES OF RIDDICK.

And by the way, apparently all you have to do to make a hardcore lesbian sniper bi-curious is kill off the other members of her team. Well played, Riddick. Well played.