Vin Diesel and collaborator writer-director David Twoghy scale back from the grand space opera of Chronicles to remake their own Pitch Black, with Diesel’s laconic outcast again stranded on a desert planet with assorted toothed-and-clawed nasties and a bunch of mercenary bounty-hunters.
Unlike its’ spectacular, fun predecessor, Riddick is a testosterone fuelled, mean-spirited, misogynistic re-hash of Pitch Black.
As a creature-feature, Riddick is more than eye-catching with its’ scorpion-tailed carnivores set in impressive alien landscapes. Sadly, the best acting is perhaps from Riddick’s rescue-dog, the lovingly realised giant CGI hyena.
Which reflects poorly of the human cast, a rag-tag band of space mercs imported from Halo or Call of Duty, while Diesel has established his mono-syllabic grunting and muscle flexing as the ultimate Bear Grylls survivalist crossed with a space-faring Conan the Barbarian.
Jordi Molla (Columbiana) and Dave Bautista (Guardians of the Galaxy) are the low-rent mercenaries lifted from any number of video games (or 80’s Arnie actioners), swearing and growling through a man-hunt gone rapidly wrong.
Enter Matthew Nable’s ramrod-straight Boss Johns (yes, a link-back to the original Pitch Black), with his crew featuring ever-reliable Bokeem Woodbine and, doing herself no favours, Katee Sackhoff as Dahl (pronounced ‘Doll’). This space-going lip-stick lesbian, Annie Oakley with a sniper rifle, we’re supposed to believe is tougher than most of the men. The dialogue by Jim Wheat,Ken Wheat and, presumably, Shredded Wheat, serves her particularly badly. Yes, we know from Battlestar Galactica she can do tougher-than-a-man tough, but context is all and this is a travesty. Perhaps that’s why she’s missing from the final signing-off scene.
But there’s more of Dahl than the poorly-developed monster-fodder in the background, including a cut-price Danny Trejo (Raoul Trujillo) and Nolan Gerard Funk’s Bible-thumping young rookie – who surely wouldn’t have lasted five minutes in Molla’s crew.
So it’s a creature-feature shoot-em-up with Hover-Harley’s and a lot of CGI. How do you think it’s going to end? Yep, that’s it. Double-crosses, storms, darkness, more monsters than Aliens, and Diesel ghosting his way through the dot-to-dot plot like a super-charged Rambo.
Whichever way you look at it, Riddick should be irredeemable; a laughable, over-the-top popcorn sequel and yet, well-paced and executed with panache by Twoghy, somehow Riddick holds its’ own. RC
Director: David Twohy
Writer: David Twohy, Jim Wheat, Ken Wheat
Genre: Science Fiction & Fantasy
Running time: 1 hr. 59 min.
Cast: Vin Diesel, Katee Sackhoff, Dave Bautista, Karl Urban, Jordi Molla, Matt Nables, Raoul Trujillo, Nolan Gerard Funk, Bokeem Wodobine, Keri Hilson, Conrad Pla, Noah Danby, Neil Napier
Related: Review: Edge of Tomorrow (2014)