This is the real sequel to “Pitch Black,” even though it took about nine years for star Vin Diesel to accomplish it. The stories of Richard Riddick need to be R-rated fare, not the PG-13 stuff of the second movie, “The Chronicles of Riddick.”
Riddick, you may remember, lives in a future in which he was a prisoner. He’s now stranded on a planet that is anything but hospitable. At nearly every turn, Riddick is faced with creatures that would like nothing more than to devour him. Alone, with no assistance expected, Riddick figures out how to create shelter, find food and even companionship in a dog-like creature that he raises from puppyhood.
Then the bounty hunters arrive after Riddick sets off a distress signal. The leader, Santana (Jorid Molla), wants to preserve Riddick’s head in a transparent box. Johns (Matt Nable), on the other hand, wants to take Riddick alive so he can be interrogated. Then, in the third act, all the humans need to work together against a force that’s bigger than anything they expected.
Those who appreciate Diesel in his “Fast and Furious” role might be a little surprised at just how testosterone-driven the even tougher Riddick is in this only-for-grownups tough-guy tale that spews spit, gristle, profanity and violence all over the screen.
Riddick is more of a cartoon than a character with real development, but Diesel makes him extremely entertaining, especially during the first third of the movie that has little dialogue in the “man versus nature” scenarios. “Fast & Furious” fans also will get a kick out of a clever nod to Diesel’s penchant for fast machines in the other movie franchise.
The humor is dark, and this suits Diesel well. He can toss off a one-liner as well as his action-hero predecessors such as Schwarzenegger and Stallone. (This movie, in fact, reminds me quite a bit of a science-fiction nod to “Rambo.”)
Molla plays his part of a psycho villain to the hilt with appropriate scenery-chewing fury. He’s so loathsome that you’ll be rooting for him to get his comeuppance within the first couple of minutes of his appearance.
I really like the idea of “a guy and his dog” that’s reminiscent, believe it or not, of “Dances With Wolves.” The CGI is pretty good, especially with the creepy water monsters and their stinging tails that threaten Riddick. His solution to their presence is clever.
In fact, several elements of this actioner are clever. And when they’re not, they’re fun. I know we’re going to be seeing Riddick again on the big screen after this.