Published: Monday, September 9, 2013
Updated: Monday, September 9, 2013 21:09
Nine years after "The Chronicles of Riddick"—the forgettable sequel to the excellent cult classic "Pitch Black"—director David Twohy delivers the third installment to the series. The dubious decision to revive a series long thought forgotten proved to be a success. Twohy manages to return to the series' roots and deliver a solid action-packed film, with a few flaws.
"Riddick" begins with the eponymous anti-hero (Vin Diesel) stranded and wounded on a desolate planet. We soon get a flashback with some narrative explaining the events that happened since the previous film, including the betrayal of Riddick at the hands of Vaako (Karl Urban) in an apparent attempt to become the new leader of the Necromongers (a fanatic group from "The Chronicles of Riddick.") As soon as the setting is established, all mention of the second film (thankfully) disappears.
As Riddick struggles to survive on the unknown planet, he is forced to fight off a plethora of CGI creatures that are actually very well designed given the film's relatively low budget ($38 million, compared to the previous film's $120 million). Eventually, Riddick realizes the only way off the planet is calling for help in an abandoned bounty hunters' station. Knowing he has a significant price on his head, his goal is to make his presence known and then steal the ship of anyone who comes looking for the money.
Two bounty hunter crews ended up responding to the beacon—one led by the arrogant and narcissistic Santata (Jordi Mollà Perales) and the other by Johns (Matt Nable), the father of the bounty hunter Riddick killed in "Pitch Black." While their performances are mediocre and at times even annoying, Katee Sackhoff (best known for playing Starbuck on "Battlestar Galactica") shines in her much-too-small role as Dahl, a member of Johns' team.
Multiple conflicts soon arise— it is clear both teams have different intentions for Riddick's fate once he is captured. Meanwhile, members of both sides are getting killed by our outlaw anti-hero. If that is not enough, "Riddick" layers on another problem in the form of a fast-approaching storm sure to awaken a horde of bloodthirsty amphibian-like beasts that dwell buried throughout the planet.
The plot is certainly formulated and predictable, and the evolutions of characters expected and shallow. But "Riddick" does not try to mask this, and instead embraces this lack of development and uses it as an opportunity to fill in the void with unadulterated action aided by surprisingly exceptional editing and truly outstanding use of lighting.