Riddick (2013) – Directed by David Twohy – Starring Vin Diesel, Jordi Mollà, Matt Nable, Katee Sackhoff, Dave Batista, Bokeem Woodbine, Raoul Trujillo, and Karl Urban.
Let’s pick a random fight between two movie franchises that are not at war with one another just because I’m not entirely sure what to say about a movie that gives Riddick a dog and then goes on to make that the most interesting part of the movie. Ready? Okay. Here it is:
I’ll take the Riddick franchise over the Terminator franchise every day of the week.
This is a completely arbitrary declaration on my part. It is a purposeful, immature way for me to take a shot at a franchise that had the decency to give us a very good (and very underrated) Guns N Roses song and the indecency to keep coming back. Do you know they’re making a fifth Terminator movie? And another TV show? At this point, the only thing more unbelievable than time traveling robots from the future being unable to kill a little kid is that they keep trying.
Riddick (Vin Diesel) might not have much of a personality, but he’s got it on the Tandy-800 and the Connors a thousand times over.
(That was all incredibly immature of me but felt really good.)
RIDDICK is a return to the franchise’s origins of one guy teaming up with people he doesn’t want to team up with in order to fight monsters that thrive in the dark. It’s preposterous and predictable and characters don’t so much speak their lines as much as they grunt them at each other, but it genuinely entertained me, just like all the Riddick films (including Dark Fury) have entertained me.
To be sure, RIDDICK starts off on slightly shaky ground with me. We get a bridge from CHRONICLES to RIDDICK that felt a little unnecessary, but did help recenter Riddick back as the aggressive, grunting killer we all fell in love with back in PITCH BLACK. Riddick starts talking goofy, tough guy, philosophy, and just in case you missed the whole “back to basics” approach, he growls forth with, “I got civilized.”
Yes, in between CHRONICLES and now, Riddick was living in an Edith Wharton novel.
Left for dead on a dusty planet, Riddick gets a dog.
I know. A dog.
When the dog came into the picture, I was ready to jump on a train ride to Shitsville, but it works. It works so well that I didn’t want the dog to leave the picture, which is, of course, the entire point of having the dog there – it gives us someone to care about beyond Riddick. The dog gives Riddick someone to care about, too, without making him look like a wuss.
There’s an impressive array of monsters and alien animals lurking around besides the dog, and Diesel does a great job making me give a crap about what’s going on. He does such a great job bonding with the dog and fighting monsters all by his lonesome that I was actually a bit disappointed when the mercenaries arrived and turned this into a much more standard action flick.
There are two teams of mercs: one group of amateurs and one group of professionals. They both have guns and like to shoot things. They’re both here for Riddick. Other than some standout work from Katee Sackhoff and Dave Batista, though, they’re really just interchangeable mercenaries that could be in anything. Even Sackhoff and Batista’s roles aren’t much, but they have a definite presence on the screen. With Sackhoff, it’s more about her characters sharp tongue, while Batista does “glares angrily” as well as anyone. I’m reasonably certain almost everyone in this movie could kick my ass in real life, but in a movie full of tough guys, Batista comes off as the baddest of the bunch.
RIDDICK is an entirely predictable movie post-dog, but it’s solidly entertaining. Everything that happens around the making of a film shouldn’t effect your enjoyment of the final product, but I’ll admit when I heard that Diesel mortgaged his house to ensure this film got made, it made me glad I enjoyed it as much as I did. Diesel’s performance comes across with a whole lot of joy. It just feels like when Vin Diesel plays Riddick he’s playing the guy he fantasized about being when he was 12 – lots of posturing and grunting and dry quips and major ass-kicking. RIDDICK wasn’t a huge box office hit, but apparently it’s done well enough between box office and DVD/Blu-ray buys that a new film is likely to get made.
I’m on board, already.