Rapid Review: Riddick

Riddick (Vin Diesel)

The third chapter in the chronicles of Riddick returns to the darker vibes of the first film, but struggles to find a hook to hang on to.

Riddick poster (Australia)The cult of Vin Diesel is an impressive one, with several franchises under his belt and almost 50 million followers on social media. Despite the many flaws of the Chronicles of Riddick (2004), the follow-up to the surprise hit Pitch Black (2000), fan demand for more adventures from the Furyan warrior Richard B. Riddick brought original director David Twohy back for something less Dame Judi Denchified and more in the vein of the first film. So much so, that the simply named Riddick is a virtual remake of that initial cult favourite, save for an extended sequence of silent badassery in which the titular character hangs out in a cave, nurses a broken leg, builds up a resistance to monster venom and defeats said creature to escape into a nightmarish desert landscape. (By comparison, Batman took 8 years off the job because his leg was sore and his kind of girlfriend died. What a kitten…). So with Diesel’s manhood established, he soon finds himself in the interstellar equivalent of a log cabin with a group of mercenaries led by the violent Santana (Jordi Mollà), fending off hordes of nasties.

Riddick is a film split into three distinct sections, and none of them are terribly compelling. Indeed, it is striking that there is total lack of tension in the film, with none of the stakes offering much in the way of peril/reward for the cast or audience.  The almost wordless first act shows promise, returning to a stripped-back approach to storytelling the series missed in the previous entry. Unfortunately, this is undercut by the remaining two-thirds of the “narrative”. Katee Sackhoff plays the sole female character, save for a rapidly dispatched prisoner earlier in the film, and everybody seems to have a rampantly misogynist attitude towards a character who states emphatically that she doesn’t sleep with men. Much of the claustrophobic pissing contest in the second act is peppered with references to which of the male characters is going to have their way with her. Of course, the clincher is Diesel getting to play grab-arse in the final moments of the film, having proven his manhood through physical strength and lesbian turning prowess. A wholly forgettable film that makes us wish we were as sensitive to light as the lead character.