The Reel: Don’t risk your home to see “Riddick”

Ben Conniff

One of the toughest guys in Hollywood was recently one flop away from life on the streets.

According to an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, actor Vin Diesel leveraged his house in order to come up with the finances for “Riddick,” the third film in writer/director David Twohy’s cult-favorite “Pitch Black” series.

With the finished product now in theaters, it might’ve been better if Diesel had just stayed in his house. 

This time around, Riddick finds himself stranded on a sun-scorched planet inhabited by violent predators. His only hope for rescue is to activate an emergency beacon that alerts two separate mercenary ships of the bounty on Riddick’s head. 

With the elements stacked against him, Riddick must fight to make good and get off the planet alive at all costs.

Yet, nobody cares.

With both his script and direction, Twohy fails to generate any sense of feeling for any of the characters. Even as Riddick spends the first twenty minutes figuring out how to survive the planet’s extreme conditions, I couldn’t help but care less about what happened to him.

The same can be said about the mercenaries. 

Essentially, they are nothing more than disposable bad guys who serve no true purpose but to be dispatched by our protagonist.

So when the film introduces an unnecessary shift away from Riddick, it becomes a plodding feature about the conflicting guns-for-hire, filled with slow, padded dialogue that serves as a fine sleep aid.

In addition to the confused storyline, the action is sparse and fails to pack much punch.

Some of the most exciting sequences are when Riddick takes on these massive, scorpion-like predators that look almost identical to the Xenomorphs from “Aliens”.

These scenes were fun but underwhelming because all I could see were “Aliens” and a mediocre Diesel in place of the superior Sigourney Weaver.

Ensuing gunfights, fistfights, and swordplay are nothing that action junkies haven’t seen before, although there is a pretty gnarly stunt that Riddick pulls with a machete just before the film’s final act.

Consider it the long overdue wake-up call to the coma-inducing scenes with the “mercs” earlier.

As much as “Riddick” borrows from “Aliens,” it takes pages from “I Am Legend” and “Old Yeller” as well. 

Towards the beginning, Riddick gets attacked by a pack of dingo-like creatures. 

Somehow, he manages to capture one of their young and raise it as his companion.

As ridiculous as it sounds, watching Riddick train and play with an alien puppy actually makes for a fun, lighthearted first act.

It’s just a bummer the CGI wasn’t done better. 

All of the creatures look corny and the landscapes manufactured.

It looks like the same special effects technology they used on “The Chronicles of Riddick” in 2004.

What should be a return to form for writer/director Twohy and star Diesel, “Riddick” manages to be nothing more than a forgettable hodgepodge of unoriginal stunts and ideas, despite a relatively lighthearted first act.