I must warn you now, I’m a dyed in the wool, card carrying Riddick fan, and my review will, most probably, reflect this. Having got that out of the way, I do have a criticism, but more of that later.
This third installment of the Riddick franchise, sees the larger than life anti hero once again left for dead on an unknown planet. Having blotted his copybook with the Necromongers by not becoming one of them completely, they trick him into believing they’re taking him home to Furya. Believing he is dead, they leave him there and exit stage left.
Injured, but very much alive, Riddick immediately finds himself surrounded by fierce creatures all intent on having him for dinner, and true to his nature, he has no intention of acquiescing. This part of the movie has been strongly influenced by Pitch Black, the first, and most successful film in the franchise. We see him allowing the more savage side of his nature to take control as he battles with the creatures and settles in to life in this dangerous environment. Thankfully, Vin Diesel listened to the fans who all made it quite clear that they did not approve of the way the character developed during the second film in the series, The Chronicles of Riddick, and this third episode takes the character back what the fans see as his true nature – a misunderstood outcast who, by virtue of his slight lack of interpersonal skills, manages to alienate everyone with whom he comes into contact. This always leads to friction, which leads to aggression and he has found, due to the turmoil that has dogged his entire life, that offence is usually the best form of defence. He is his own worst enemy, and although I firmly believe that somewhere inside, he longs to be loved, he’s too set in his ways to ever make the change.
Riddick is probably the best character for Vin Diesel to play. The poorly educated, emotionally repressed, but good looking thug, is the type of character that he can play without having to get too far away from his own true personality. This is why he plays Riddick so well. Take away the fact that the character is a killer, and you have Vin Diesel playing himself.
There is the usual band of Mercs, all hoping that Riddick is going to net them a good pay day, and all unbelievably confident in their ability to capture and restrain him without cost to themselves. This is my criticism. Given Riddick’s fame and notoriety, one would think that all the Mercs would have enough experience to realise that here is one guy not to take a chance with, that they will need to be disciplined and use all of their skills to not only get their man, but survive themselves as well. Hollywood however, has other ideas, and every movie these days seems to contain at least one character who is supposedly successful at what they do, but this job is the one that turns them into a bumbling and ineffective idiot. These characters in Riddick 3 are, we are supposed to believe, Mercs who have made their living capturing all manner of dangerous criminals whilst avoiding all sorts of dreadful creatures on many inhospitable worlds. Why then, are they suddenly so stupid when they come to deal with Riddick? They argue and bicker all the time, they let their personal issues get in the way of the job, they can’t shoot straight, and they are very easily distracted from whatever they are doing. Please Hollywood, credit us with some sense.
Riddick 3 brings in a direct link to Pitch Black, in the form of one character called Johns. He is the father of a character who died in Pitch Black, and wants Riddick to tell him what happened to his boy. I like the fact that the Director, Dave Twohy, linked the two films this way, as it gives continuity and a flowing storyline that we can follow and believe in.
There is humour in this movie too, especially the part where Riddick makes his new pet balance food on his nose. The animal character is lovely, a great idea by the movie’s makers.
There is all the fighting one would expect in a Riddick movie, and very Pitch Black-esque scenes towards the end where hundreds of creatures are bearing down on Riddick and the Mercs as they try to make their way back to the safety of their space ship. Even the setting is the same, the night time and pouring rain are taken straight from Pitch Black, and the creatures themselves even look very similar to those in the first movie. All of this is okay by me and most other hardened Riddick fans. We love Pitch Black the best and are delighted that this third installment gives such a large nod to it.
You will not be intellectually challenged by this movie, and it won’t net Vin Diesel an Oscar. It is him, doing what he does best – playing a character we love, in the way we’ve come to love him. Riddick being wronged and left for dead, struggling to survive against all odds, fighting with creatures and living hand to mouth, dealing with the annoyance of Mercs and finally, being allowed to run off into the sunset because one of the Mercs has come to respect him. Simple, straightforward and fun. There is an obvious hint right at the end that there will be a fourth movie that sees Riddick head home to Furya, and I for one can’t wait to see it.
I give this movie 5 stars out of 5, not only because it’s Riddick but because it’s actually enjoyable and because the character is once again as I know he should be.