It seems like the producers of the “Chronicles of Riddick” franchise just can’t seem to figure out what to do with it. It started with the low-budget cult film “Pitch Black,” which leaned toward horror and tension. Then “The Chronicles of Riddick” took the series in a more complicated, action-esque direction, and after some middling reception from audiences, the series has been stuck in limbo.
But now director David Twohy wants to bring the series back to basics, and with “Riddick,” he’s succeeded for the most part.
Space-faring criminal Richard B. Riddick (Vin Diesel, “Fast and Furious 6”) has found himself stranded on a desert planet after being betrayed by the Necromongers from “Chronicles.” Riddick now seeks survival, escape and vengeance against those who betrayed him. A few hapless bounty hunters who soon arrive looking for Riddick give him that opportunity.
The first act is done much in silence, similar to “WALL-E,” as Riddick attempts to survive the harsh climate. Here Riddick’s character develops in ways words could never achieve. The audience clearly sees Riddick’s survival routine is having an effect on him. There are sometimes even rare glimpses of compassion from the character, and it’s all the more powerful the less that’s being said.
The second act is also very well done, as Riddick tracks the bounty hunters as they search for him. The hunters are believable characters, and it’s sometimes hard to keep track who to remain sympathetic toward. This makes much of the tension in this movie all the more palpable when you wonder which of the likable cast is going to get killed off next in this battle of hunter versus hunted.
However, the film starts to fall apart when the final act kicks in. The otherwise excellent pacing grinds to a halt, and exposition is dumped like garbage in a landfill. And as for the climax, all I can say is, “What climax?” The film ends on a very boring note.
Nonetheless, the first hour and a half or so of this film is good enough to be recommended. Riddick’s character grows in astounding ways, and the movie, for the most part, is a great, tense thrill ride. Just don’t feel bad if you have an urge to leave the theater at certain points throughout the movie.
Release Date: Sept. 5, 2013
Director: David Twohy
Starring: Vin Diesel, Matt Nable, Katee Sackhoff