Director: David Twohy (2013)
Starring: Vin Diesel, Jordi Molla, Katee Sackhoff
Find it: IMDB
I had no idea that the perfectly okay Pitch Black and entirely boring Chronicles of Riddick warranted another sequel, but there you go - David Twohy and Vin Diesel have gotten their way - Riddick is back. I'll never agree that Richard Riddick is a character who deserves his own franchise, or that Diesel makes for particularly good leading man material, but who am I to judge? I'd happily watch thirteen-hundred Friday the Thirteenth films, and have loved every dubious Wrong Turn so far. I went into Riddick not expecting much but hoping to have a good time.
Wisely doing away with the Necromonger nonsense of the previous film, Dick Riddick is betrayed, battered and dumped on a nameless planet somewhere in the middle of nowhere. We watch as Riddick picks himself up, dusts himself off and gets back to fighting fit. The first quarter of the film plays like a Bear Grylls documentary, with Riddick kidnapping puppies, fighting off feral animals and swimming on the mud pits of not-Mars. It's here we get the best acting from Diesel, thanks to his barely speaking. Then the mercenaries turn up, and things get more entertaining and infury(an)ating, at once. Riddick vs Arsehole Mercenaries is by far the best part of this pie, in that Riddick pretty much disappears for half an hour. It's during this time that we're able to be intimidated by him again - gone is the macho posturing and ridiculous tough guy flourishes - it's just a team of heavily armed mercs, dragged off one by one into the darkness by a formidable, fearless foe.
Then he starts talking again, and doing stuff on camera, and the film becomes much harder to like. The dialogue and action is like a fifteen-year-old boy's interpretation of "cool" - all rapey smack talk, Call of Duty one liners and 'banter' which sounds tough but makes no sense. "I don't fuck guys, but I occasionally fuck guys up," says Dahl (Sackhoff). Which is fine, but makes little sense in the context of the conversation. I much preferred the CGI monsters of the last quarter, which are all action and no shit-talking.
From there, it's a complete remake of Pitch Black. The action is slick, fun and frequently gory. Again, Riddick's posturing makes it a bit of a chore to watch (dude, was there any need to bring Sackhoff's nipples into this?) but it's solid enough. If you liked Alien: Resurrection and Pitch Black, you should be absolutely fine with this. There's a cute dog, Dave Bautista, Bokeem Woodbine and some nifty-looking aliens. That doesn't hide the fact that Dick Riddick is the weakest element of his own film, but it helps. Look, if Dahl had been the lead character here, Riddick would have been all the better for it.