If the rest of the RIDDICK franchise is as abysmal as the third installment in the series, I’m glad I never made the choice to catch up with the previous two efforts. Maybe there is some benefit of the doubt to be given, as clearly someone enjoyed PITCH BLACK and CHRONICLES OF RIDDICK enough for Vin Diesel to push to make #3… but after suffering through an incredibly lifeless RIDDICK for two hours, I wouldn’t even know where to begin looking for such generosity. RIDDICK is a pointless exercise in… well, I don’t even know what. There’s really not even the slightest bit of effort made in cobbling together some type of sensible story. The characters, outside of Riddick, are so poorly drawn from the most generic of tropes that you spend most of the movie trying to figure out where you remember where you’ve seen that character type done better recently. The dialogue is bad enough to make you cringe, and, as for the action, which is really why I’d imagine you’d sign up to see RIDDICK in the first place… it’s shot by director David Twohy in such a frantic and visually indecipherable way that makes it difficult to see what the hell is happening on screen that I found myself wondering why no one seems capable of showing me action with any sort of clarity any more. After enjoying a nice dinner and a few beers with friends before taking in RIDDICK, which left with a hearty buzz prior to the film, I found myself sobering up rather quickly as the film progressed, unable to keep my good mood going, as such an unexciting film transpired before me. I only wish I had broken the seal before settling in, because at least getting up constantly to go to the bathroom during the film would have given me something fun to do over the span of those two hours. RIDDICK not only robbed me of a continued enjoyable time that day, but it stole time from me that I’m never getting back.
In doing my research as to what I may have missed in the prior two films, RIDDICK picks up with Diesel’s title character left for dead on some unknown planet, battered, beaten, scarred-up, bleeding and broken. Having been betrayed by the Necromongers, Riddick has his mind set on revenge, but he’s going to have to find a way out of this place in order to do anything about it. After what feels like an endless sequence for him to become friends with a native dog and then pass some scorpion-like creatures in order to get up some stairs (it has to be at least a half-hour, made only worse by the decision to have the whole set-up accompanied by a drab monotone Vin Diesel voiceover), Riddick fires up an emergency beacon that will have a group of bounty hunters descending upon the planet in no time, looking to collect on the price that’s been placed on Riddick’s head, which is actually doubled if he’s brought back dead. This ragtag group of misfits is made up of the obnoxious leader (Jordi Molla), the tough woman (Katee Sackhoff), the big enforcer (Dave Bautista) and then a handful of guys who are clearly fodder for Riddick to show how lethal he can be when he wants someone dead. We also get a military contigent who appears looking for answers to past events from Riddick, which may matter to the die-hards ready to eat up every last detail this series is willing to provide, but, when wedged into this film, gives off the impression that Twohy needed as much material as possible to stretch this thing to a length longer than 45 minutes. Why else would we get all that time I mentioned become good pals with that dog?
Once everyone’s boots are on the ground, that’s when the cat and mouse game is supposed to start, but those are typically of a quick pace, with some sort of frenetic energy to them. RIDDICK has none of that, plodding along miserably, going through the motions, feeling as dead as something can be before the defibrillators are needed. They want to catch him. He wants to get off this planet. There are some deadly alien creatures standing in the way of what both parites want. Who really cares? The only bit of concern I felt throughout my time with Riddick was for the five-year-old girl behind me whose parents dragged her this flick, most likely unwilling or unable to find a babysitter, who then had to sit through the expletives, nudity and violence that is clearly not appropriate for her age range. Girl whose mind becomes warped due to some ill-advised childhood movie-going experience, and the downward spiral her life because of such a life-altering moment, resulting in a violent relationship with her parents… Hmmm… that sounds like a much more compelling watch than anything RIDDICK was trying to put forth, and I almost wish I would have put the couple hours RIDDICK tried putting me to sleep to better use, writing such a tale of irresponsible parenting and the consequences that result.
There’s a running gag of Katee Sackhoff’s Dahl (yes, it sounds exactly like “doll,” which isn’t sexist at all) having sex with Riddick at every possible moment they can find to squeeze it in, which isn’t funny the first time and grows more and more rapey each new time it bubbles back up to the surface, which speaks volumes about the kind of things that are supposed to be cool within RIDDICK that never quite are. Take Bautista’s Diaz squaring off in a fight with Diesel’s Riddick. A former WWE Champion versus Vin Diesel should be cool, right? Except you know what isn’t, when it’s displayed in nothing but close-up shaky cam through a rainy atmosphere…? Glad I didn’t need to spell it out. It’s a shame both Sackhoff and Bautista are wasted, as they provide RIDDICK with the film’s only glimpses at anything resembling personality. However, they’re given much too less to do for Riddick to hammer out his issues with a pair of other rather uninteresting characters that such decisions only prevent RIDDICK from ever elevating into a watchable action flick.
RIDDICK lacks the energy to make it anywhere near fun, and, without that, there’s not much else to provide any sort of enjoyment in Twohy’s sequel. I never felt like I needed to have seen the previous two pictures in the series to get what was going on, but had I seen them, it might have tipped me off that there was no way sitting through the third chapter was going to end well at all for me. If only I had been even more tipsy on that night, I might have wandered into a completely different movie than RIDDICK, something better and came out feeling like a winner. Instead RIDDICK became a vicious buzz killer and… well, I’m never getting back those two hours. All in all, no good came from RIDDICK.