Starring Vin Diesel, Karl Urban
The sequels to Pitch Black: 2004’s Chronicles of Riddick and now this weekend’s Riddick, really only exist because of The Fast & the Furious films. While Pitch Black was a modest hit (and later became more popular due to video and cable) because The Fast & the Furious was so successful Universal dumped a ton of money into the Chronicles…only to come out of it eating crow. That should’ve put an end to the adventures of anti-hero Riddick. But thanks to the massive success of 3 more Fast and Furious films and to keep Diesel appearing in more Fast films, we now have Riddick. Only this time it’s a more modestly budgeted and back to basics if you will, for Diesel and writer/director David Twohy.
But something happened along the way to making a more stripped down Riddick film, they forgot to make a film that keeps your attention during a running time that makes even less sense. Now, truth be told, I’ve never been a big fan of the Riddick films, but I can tell that I walk into each movie with a clean slate. Despite what has disappointed me in the past, I still have the optimism for a film series to surprise me (as the Fast & Furious films have). But Riddick is a dull unnecessary mess. Well, I take that back, it’s not a mess, because for it to be a mess, you have to a screenplay that doesn’t know where to go. Riddick knows what it wants to be, its simplicity is to be rewarded. Its dialogue and uninspired action can not be ignored.
Riddick takes place at some point in time after the event of the Chronicles of Riddick. Riddick (Vin Diesel) finds himself on an unnamed planet, left for dead by the Necromongers and Vaako (Karl Urban). But he’s not alone; there are creatures that have no problem using Riddick as a food source. Riddick, along with a trusty hybrid killer dog he raised to help protect him, find a remote station for mercenaries. Deciding their only play is to signal for help or become a food source, Riddick sends a distress signal. Quicker than you can say Riddick, two teams of bounty hunters (one sort of old school, the other new school) come to take Riddick back, dead or alive. But as the bounty hunters soon discover, Riddick is one tough cookie and with alien creatures knocking on their front door, they must turn to Riddick for help to get out alive. Stop me if you heard this premise before…
Now, when it comes to action films, I can be forgiving when it comes to dialogue. I’m not here to see David Mamet’s Riddick; I’m here to see Riddick and lots of kick ass action. But the dialogue in this movie is some of the worst I’ve heard. Not only is it clichéd, but at times it seems it may have been written by elementary school kids. Case in point: There is a scene in the movie, a flashback, where Riddick, who is tricked into thinking he is on his home planet of Furya…”Not only did I discover that this wasn’t Furya, but it was a planet…not called Furya”…seriously. The movie might have worked better with no dialogue at all, just expressive grunts and eye gestures. Given the simple plot, I wouldn’t have gotten lost. But as I stated before, some forgiveness can be given, if the action is good, which leads me to my second point…
It’s never a good sign to be bored when watching an action movie, especially during action scenes. But Riddick succeeds in spades. There is nothing dangerous, exciting or particularly well choreographed throughout Riddick. It’s not obnoxiously bad, but it’s really uninspired. Even when Riddick is supposedly in danger, you never get the sense that he is in danger. I understand that Riddick is a resourceful guy, but even Batman and Superman had moments where you thought they weren’t getting out alive. And when that’s the bread and butter of your movie, you got problems. It also doesn’t help when the movie has a lot of dark and rainy scenes (which is used to cover up bad CGI). There are times when it’s kind of hard to follow what’s going on.
I hope this is the last of the Riddick films. They had 3 films to figure this out and it hasn’t worked out. But if this means more kick ass Fast & Furious films, then count me in. Just don’t let David Twohy direct.