Director: David Twohy
Stars: Vin Diesel, Jordi Mollà, Matt Nable, Katee Sackhoff, Dave Bautista,Bokeem Woodbine, Raoul Trujillo, Karl Urban
Running time: 118 minutes
Review by Justin Monroe (@40yardsplash)
If there’s one thing that the action movie career of Vin Diesel shows us, it’s that a sizeable portion of the world likes the flavor of meathead. Otherwise there would be no third movie in the Riddick franchise, which began with 2000’s Alien-esque Pitch Black and is built on an anti-hero who plays like a Tough Guy No. 6 banged a producer so well that he got dialogue thrown his way.
In Riddick, the Necromongers, who the titular anti-hero assumed leadership of by killing their leader in 2004’s The Chronicles of Riddick, betray and leave him for dead on a dried-out husk of a planet. (“Instead of Furya, they took me to someplace called not-Furya,” says Riddick, whose many clever witticisms can be explained by his penal system education.) Following a fight for survival against alien vultures, dogs, and serpentine water predators, and a goofy training sequence with a pup he’s adopted and turned into man’s best friend, Riddick activates a beacon to lure mercenary bounty hunters so he can steal their ship and escape. (This time, he’s worth twice as much dead as he is alive!)
Thus begins a Predator-like chunk of story that follows two groups of mercs whose characters are so thin they make you pine for the largely absent muscles-for-brains Riddick. Santana (Jordi Mollà), leader of the more ragtag group, is little more than a pervy Latino hothead stereotype, and he constantly complains about how the other leader, Boss Johns (Matt Nable), is stepping on his dick, porch, or frequency. Johns, it’s revealed, is the answer-seeking father of William J. Johns (Cole Hauser), the morphine addict merc from Pitch Black who was willing to sacrifice a child for bait to escape the night beasts that ultimately killed him. Important question: Is he as big a dick as his son?
The most thought-provoking of the underdeveloped mercs is Katee Sackhoff’s Dahl, a lesbian whose main purpose for existence seems to be fighting with Santana, and showing a nipple to please fanboys and set up a Riddick joke about it matching her “Predator Pink” toenail polish. In a baffling move, it’s suggested that Dahl, who says outright “I don’t fuck guys,” would indeed lay down for Riddick. Apparently lesbians are just women killing time with each other until a man who’s badass enough comes along.
True to franchise form, it turns out that the escaped convict and murderer, who the mercs eventually shackle, is not the one everyone needs to fear most (although he does kill several of them). Instead of Pitch Black’s creatures of the night, now it’s those serpentine water predators, released by rain. The only guy who can get everyone out of the shitstorm? You guessed it.
Given his continued heroics, always proving himself the better man, it’s harder and harder to understand why he’s considered a bad guy at all. According to The Chronicles of Riddick, Necromongers wiped out all the young males of Furya when he was a baby and left him for dead (foreshadowing!) with an umbilical cord wrapped around his neck. Does not that, and the inherent animalistic rage of all Furyans, justify his homicidal tendencies, which, by the way, never seem to claim the lives of innocents?
The many callbacks of Riddick, its abundance of moronic dialogue (Santana: “Where did you get that theory, a unicorn’s ass?”), and CGI sequences that scream “Yoooooooo, check out this green screen!” leave the movie in the category of dumb setups for a drinking game. There will (Spoiler Alert!) likely be more sequels to follow, and our feelings about that are summed up nicely by Riddick, who, before all hell breaks loose, tells one young Bible-thumping merc, “Kid, leave God out of this. He wants no part of what happens next.” We're going with God on this one.