Riddick does exactly what it should do for fans of leading man Vin Diesel and the character — it reaffirms that he's the alpha mutant-male that gives Bono a run for his money in the sunglasses wearing department and places him in a meat grinder with suitably meat-head foes to bounce off of. However, the moments it lapses into affirmation of Riddick (and by association Diesel's) titanium infused, viagra charged, phallic masculinity that you feel like this precarious 'Jenga' tower of a film is about to come crumbling down. Abandoned by his former subjects (the Necromongers) and left for dead on a totally hostile world, Riddick must fight to stay alive. When he finds a mercenary outpost and activates a beacon two teams answer the call and battle for the bounty. However, the inhospitable rock of a planet has some surprises for its occupants.
What writer/directer David Twohy gets very right is the large segments of the film that there's no dialogue. The opening of the film where a battered Riddick has to patch himself up and survive wave after wave of alien hostility with only the occasional wry line works for the film and the character. Riddick, like Pirates of the Caribbean's Captain Jack Sparrow (Johny Depp), began as a counterpoint to another protagonist. Instead of comic relief, or unexpected profundity (Sparrow), Riddick's mutant badass-ness was required to survive the assault of alien predators. This dynamic is renewed and amplified when not one, but two groups of mercenaries that spout cheesy dialogue from '80s action goons for dummies' turn up (case in point Jordi Mollà as Santana). The best thing about Diesel is his voice, and when he's not being dwarfed by the Rock, his physique is imposing. Matt Nable's natural intensity and presence is projected quite well through Boss Johns. Dave Bautista's Diaz shows that he's got an aptitude for comedic timing (which is a positive for his upcoming Marvel work).
Katee Sackhoff's Dahl (pronounced 'Doll') is the refreshing badass chick of the piece that is reduced to being a target for potential rape from Santana or turning to team heterosexual by Riddick, with the choice pick up line of comparing the colour a girl's nail polish to her nipples. What's more is that Twohy with screen scribes Oliver Butcher and Stephen Cornwell actually show that Riddick is SO MANLY he can turn Dahl (briefly). There's a hyper-masculinity on show here that's so loud that it's reminiscent of those hyper-homophobes that guise their flesh cigar smoking habit with prejudice and bravado. After some choice DIY surgery to repair a badly broken leg Riddick entombs himself in a long abandoned temple to wait out his recovery. What follows is just baffling. Twohy reveals that in almost messianic fashion Riddick has birthed from his stone cocoon, shed all of his coverings, to scale and stand atop an outcropping of rock there's a Lion King moment — except every thing the light reflecting off of his bulbous, moonlit buttocks is his kingdom.
Riddick brings the character back to what people enjoyed about Pitch Black; Twohy's Diesel idolatry aside there's entertaining sci-fi action thrills to be had, once.
[rating=2] and a half
Blake Howard - follow Blake on Twitter here: @blakeisbatman and listen to the audio review on That Movie Show 2UE here or on top-rating film podcast Pod Save Our Screen, available now on iTunes.
Directed by: David Twohy Written by: David Twohy (Story), Oliver Butcher (screenplay), Stephen Cornwell (screenplay) Starring: Vin Diesel, Jordi Mollà, Matt Nable, Katee Sackhoff, Dave Bautista