Though I’d certainly like to, there’s no denying the pleasure of a movie like Riddick—a meat-and-potatoes sci-fi brawler that’s light on the kind of moral hand-wringing weighing down its contemporaries. After a summer of apocalyptic confrontations and destroyed worlds, Riddick‘s uncomplicated plot—a simple, man vs. monster narrative—is something of a breath of fresh air. There are problems—significant problems—as the film attempts to zoom out from its protagonist’s quest to survive a desolate, hostile planet, but if writer/director David Twohy and Vin Diesel’s stalled saga becomes the franchise the two have always envisioned, there’s just enough here to suggest Richard Riddick’s journey home as worthwhile of a few summers as the adventures of, say, Thor or Superman.
Largely without dialogue beyond a gruff Diesel voiceover, the first third of Riddick functions as one of the more compelling features of an otherwise dull summer. A king at the conclusion of The Chronicles of Riddick, Diesel’s titular one man army finds himself exiled on a planet that was barely discovered before its human occupants decided abandonment a better course of action. Beyond air and water, everything Riddick encounters is hostile. Dog-like creatures hunt him in packs, and worse creatures lurk in the shadows and muck, standing between the man and his sustenance. It’s an odd path for an action movie to take, but in its spare, brutal shorthand, Riddick lets the audience know that this is a film about the unequivicated power of masculinity. Read more