The 400-Word Review: Riddick
By Sean Collier
September 9, 2013
The uncontested most interesting thing about Riddick, the offensively dumb scifi/horror morass from director/writer David Twohy, is an anecdote about its development.
The Hollywood Reporter ran the story this week: series star Vin Diesel had been approached to make a one-scene appearance in the third Fast and the Furious movie, Tokyo Drift. He had left that franchise after the first installment; he turned down a cash offer for the small part, countering that he’d show up only if he was compensated with the rights to the Riddick franchise. No one cared about the future of that property after The Chronicles of Riddick sputtered, so a deal was made.
As a result, the Fast and the Furious franchise flourished; more and more stars were piled on in the ensuing three movies, and the most recent Furious installments are the best of the bunch. In other words, the rebirth and box-office dominance of the Furious movies is thanks, inadvertently, to Riddick.
Riddick itself, on the other hand...yeesh.
The titular lunkhead (Diesel, obviously) awakens on a barren planet to fight some ugly animals. He wants to get back to a different planet, or something; a brief flashback meant to clarify the happenings for those who missed or have forgotten the previous films only muddies the waters.
Anyway, after a while, people show up to capture Riddick, and he fights them. Then he teams up with them to fight more ugly animals. That’s it.
The less said about the dialogue — which features the phrase “unicorn’s ass” invoked in anger — the better. It bears mentioning, though, that the script manages to thoroughly insult women, minorities and homosexuals (often from the mouth of the protagonist, sometimes as a matter of plot development) without lifting a finger.
A few of the supporting actors give performances with more dignity than is warranted; chief human antagonist Jordi Mollà managed to do something with his character, though I’m not sure what it was. Diesel offers nothing, as his wooden line delivery and neanderthal charm only work (sort of) in a modern, earthbound setting like the Furious films.
If any ambitions are on display, they’re in the photography and staging of the unnamed planet, a barren desert of rocks and caves. Even in moments that would’ve otherwise been visually engaging, though, too much stupidity is on screen to enjoy anything at all. This movie is terrible.
Sean Collier is the Associate Editor of Pittsburgh Magazine and a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association. Read more from Sean at pittsburghmagazine.com/afterdark