Riddick review

It’s been a long time since Vin Diesel’s sociopathic antihero Richard B Riddick smelled beautiful – nine long years trapped in the Underverse of development hell – but after a sustained campaign by fans, a couple of successful computer games, boffo DVD sales of the first two movies and big Vin putting up his house as collateral to raise the budget, the Furyan triumphantly returns in Riddick: a pared down, back-to-basics tale that takes up where The Chronicles Of Riddick left off.

When last we saw him, escaped convict Riddick (Diesel) had just saved the universe, or at least innocent planet Helion Prime, from the Necromongers and avenged his people, the Furyans, by killing the man who ordered their genocide, the Necromonger Lord Marshal (Colm Feore), in single combat, inheriting his galactic empire in the process – “You keep what you kill!” being the whole of the Necromonger law.

Nothing lasts forever though and Riddick, distracted by the perks of being Galactic Emperor (a bitching throne, a bed full of nudey Goth chicks, all the booze he can drink), takes his eyes off the ball.  Betrayed and left for dead by avaricious Necromonger Lord Vaako (a fleeting cameo by Karl Urban), marooned on a hostile alien world, Riddick finds himself battling dangerous predators for survival. His only chance of escape lies in activating an emergency beacon, immediately alerting every bounty hunter and mercenary in the galaxy to his presence. Two ships respond to his signal – Santana’s (Molla) gang of cutthroat killers and a crew of disciplined professional bounty hunters led by Boss Johns (Nable), who has a very personal score to settle with Riddick. But with an apocalyptic storm coming, an army of ravenous beasties on the march and time running out, Riddick and the mercenaries will have to work together to get off the planet alive.

Back to doing what he does best – growling dumb one-liners, cutting throats and lopping off heads – Diesel’s obviously having a ball. He slips easily back into Riddick’s skin, and is ably supported by a great cast including Aussie rugger player Nable as the driven, vengeance-minded Johns; the fresh-faced Funk, who gives us a new wrinkle on his customary twitchy outsider; WWE star Bautista, impresive as a heavy who, for a moment, actually looks like he could hold his own playing for blood with Diesel; and the wonderful Sackhoff, who gives us a swearier, all-business version of her iconic Starbuck as ass-kicking, ball-breaking bounty hunter Dahl – in the process making the dreams of every geeky fanboy on Earth come true in a gratuitous wanking ... sorry, I mean washing ... scene.  

Closer in spirit to the lean, mean bug hunt of 2000’s Pitch Black than the lush, epic, Conan-in-space opera of 2004’s The Chronicles Of Riddick, Riddick is far from original, essentially rebooting the franchise by recycling the plot of the first film and amping up the action, delivering the R-rated violence many fans felt was missing. It’s a limber, rollicking rollercoaster that, after a scene-setting opening third which sees Riddick betrayed, left for dead and adopt an alien dog (really), never lets up. It doesn’t have the scope, the vision, the baroque nature of Chronicles which built not just a world but a universe, but it doesn’t need it. It has Diesel and Starbuck riding rocket cycles and battling vicious alien monsters! What more do you want from a slice of Saturday night entertainment? A tight, gritty little thrill-ride with a dark, vicious sense of humour that turns its characters loose and lets them have fun, Riddick is the sci-fi sequel fans have been waiting for. Now, who wants to see him wipe the smirk of Urban’s face and kick some Necromonger ass in the next one?

Riddick at IMDb

Stuart O'Connor is the Managing Editor of Screenjabber, the movie review website he co-founded with Neil Davey far too many years ago. He likes all genres, as long as the film is good (although he does enjoy the occasional bad "guilty pleasure"), and drinks way too much coffee.

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