The best thing, worst thing, and main thing about Vin Diesel’s return to being “Riddick” in about the time it takes to watch the trailer.
Now that Vin Diesel has both the Fast and Furious and Pitch Black franchises in full swing, could we finally see that sequel to The Pacifier?
“Riddick” is the third movie following the escaped convict sci fi anti hero as he is pursued by bounty hunters looking for a big score. Vin Diesel once again reprises the role, this time left for dead on a desolate planet with seeming little chance of survival. Oh but survive he does. I’ll never forget how surprised I was the first time I saw “Pitch Black” at how inventive and fun it was and I’m glad to say “Riddick” has recaptured a lot of that magic here.
When this movie is working it’s crazy intense. In fact, I’d put the first 45 minutes of this up against any action movie this year. The design is beautiful, the situations are interesting, and the creature designs are incredible. Plus Vin Diesel falls back into this role flawlessly, growling his lines like some sort of caged animal and out menacing any life form he might come in contact with, human or otherwise. But the best thing about “Riddick” is the way he solves problems to survive. From the opening beat of letting a scavenger bird peck at his fingers til he can grab it by the neck, the movie offers puzzle after puzzle to our grizzled survivor, who solves each in inventive and often adrenaline inducing ways. And for about the first half it never seems to let up, until other people arrive… and they have to carry on conversations… and story.
It’s not that the dialogue is drop dead awful or the acting is horrendous (though its not great), it’s just that it takes us away from the action and intensity that defined the first half of the film. The film does eventually pick it back up with a pretty crazy finale but that in between time can get a bit tedious. Another thing that comes along when the humans and their words enter the scene is the addition of bad jokes that I’m assuming are supposed to be some sort of comic relief. However, since my general response was much more likely to be an eye roll than a laugh, it made the film seem much more flimsy and shallow than it should have. It was such a distraction I’d even call it my worst thing.
In the end, Riddick succeeds in all the places it should. The action, though over the top, is compelling, and watching Vin Diesel work himself out of these life and death situations is a real treat. It’s only during the second half when the story stalls and the attempts at humor fall flat on their face does it start to lose points. All taken together I’ll go with a B-.
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