I was looking so forward to September 6th because it was finally another Riddick movie, instead of another Fast & Furious movie I’m not interested in. I tried Fast 1. Watched the whole thing in two separate sittings and decided I wasn’t the target audience. Years later, I had HBO free for three months and Fast Five was on 24 hours a day for about six weeks straight, so I figured, what the heck? Nope. Still not a fan of the hugely popular franchise, so I’m just going to let those millions of people worldwide enjoy their car movies full of stunts and explosions in peace. However, I do admit the very last few minutes of Fast Five were amusing. That’d make a great mini-game or cell phone app. Feeling grumpy? Let’s use a giant safe, attached to a car, as a wrecking ball and bash cars off the side of a bridge for 15 minutes! I’d get that app.
Anyway, the following contains “spoilers”, and I mean “spoilers” because the movie failed to deliver on anything new. Absolutely nothing. The entire film was a remake of Pitch Black (great film), but set after The Chronicles of Riddick (TCoR). I am so damn disappointed in this film. And I really wish I was a somebody who could approach Vin Diesel and David Twohy, and ask them to let me help with the script if they’re going to make another Riddick movie.
I was looking so forward to it, getting some answers, seeing what Riddick would do next, what he wants now, etc. Instead, Riddick’s character is disappointingly flat. He’s the same person we’re introduced to in Pitch Black. That’s it. Sure, he wants to find his way back to Furya but that’s it. He just wants to go there because he feels a need to return home. Does he want to learn more about himself and his race? Is that where he wants to hole up next? Does he want to know what the Necromongers did to his home world? Come to think of it, does he even know what the Necros did? Riddick seems absolutely clueless in regards to all that happened and devoid of any curiosity.
On top of that, he’s still the detached person who kills as needed, tells people that there are other things out there that they should be more afraid of than him, has some compassion and his own moral code, and that’s about it. We don’t see him getting tired of people abandoning him or trying to kill him, no desire to change how he lives, or anyone challenge him to change. People either try to kill them or they don’t, and in return Riddick kills the asshats and leaves alone those who match his moral code. And in every film, he’s saved/helped by someone else at one point or another, and we don’t see how that affects him psychologically. No wondering if people aren’t all that bad, or having the end result harden his resolve to remain reclusive. So frickin’ disappointed.
I was expecting to deal with a lot more Necromongers in the film but we get a mere few minutes of how they give him his Lord Marshal getup, then eventually dispose of him. We never see why Riddick even accepts the position. He doesn’t even try to use them for his own wants. He stays detached and tries to get Vaako to take him to Furya, even though there have been assassination attempts on him this whole time. Did the writers think this through? On top of that, we see almost no sign of the powers Riddick learns from fighting the Lord Marshal in TCoR–oh, and I had to learn this through a friend, who caught all the backstory in the video games (played and loved Escape from Butcher Bay), the anime (saw it years ago), and this comic, all useful info that never weaseled its way into films, that Furyans are highly adaptable, so that’s how Riddick got the night eyes and, I’m guessing, learned how to meet the Lord Marshal blow for blow. But in the latest film, Riddick discards that preternatural speed for just his Furyan prowess once the Nercros are out of the picture. I don’t get it. If I could move like that, I wouldn’t stop using such skills.
In the beginning of the film, Riddick acquires an animal the bounty hunters eventually call a “dingo dog.” He raises it from a puppy and becomes attached to it like any animal lover would. Does he name it? To my disappointment, no. This was a mistake, a missed opportunity to develop his character a little. The dog was male, so he could’ve named it Jack, or the writers could’ve gone so far as to make the animal female and Riddick could’ve named it Kira, or something that holds meaning to him. But we get nothing, no hint as to how he feels about how his life has unfolded over the past ten years. We’re just reminded that he’s bitter and a loner, and assumes he was abandoned at birth.
Another major disappointment was the lack of return of Toombs. I honestly thought he belonged in this film. He’s left alive in TCoR, and Riddick even leaves a female merc alive in the same slam, so I figured they were setting up for Toombs’ return. But no. No chance of enjoying the the dynamic between Toombs and Riddick, and no humor from the beloved merc. There was humor in this film but a lot of it didn’t feel like it fit. I’m not sure how to explain it. The stuff between the bounty hunters and the other crew worked, but the other stuff? Not quite. Maybe it would’ve worked better if Riddick’s character wasn’t so frustratingly flat.
I think this film would’ve been better if Johns (the father of the Johns from Pitch Black) had been the main character. He was the only one with a real arc. With exception of Riddick, the rest were expendable victims to Riddick and the beasties, and it was pretty obvious who was gonna die and who was gonna live, so I just sat there, head on my fist, waiting to be proven right.
Anyway, Johns came with a motive and his character wasn’t predictable. He was looking for answers, got them, didn’t like what he heard and wasn’t sure if it was true, and had to decide whether he wanted to go through with helping Riddick off-planet. Oh! And the movie doesn’t even take place on Furya, which annoyed me. Yes, I get why the Necros did that to Riddick, but I think that would’ve worked better if we’d had a buildup to their betrayal. Instead we’re left wondering if this story will get anywhere.
One plot point really aggravated me. Somewhere around a third of the way through, paranoia leads the bounty hunters to unlock a metal cabinet and check on the power cells they’d smartly removed from their ships so Riddick can’t jump planet so easily. And what do they do? They leave the fucking thing unlocked for no good reason, other than to be conveniently stupid enough to present Riddick with an opportunity to steal them. Why he goes and buries them, instead of sneaking onto a ship and taking off, I have no frickin’ clue. The lock mechanism had an explosive built into it that would go off if the wrong code was put in and “explode outwards.” I thought that bomb description would lead Riddick to breaking into the cabinet from behind or above or something, but no. Stupid prevails, and then more stupid follows. And because so much stupid takes place, Riddick and crew have to fight their way through monsters to retrieve the buried power cells hidden off-base.
And the last thing that frustrated me was the few characters that felt like they had no place in the film. The girl that gets unchained and released, just to be sent off and shot in the back and killed. To what point and purpose? Riddick doesn’t need more incentive to kill anyone. The way they introduced her, I thought she was going to be sent off to hunt Riddick since she was portrayed as so wild and dangerous. But no. She gets a few minutes of screen time before lying dead in a pool of her own blood. The other character I thought was pointless was the poor preacher kid. I knew he wasn’t gonna die.
So yeah, if you can’t tell already, Riddick is just an expensive, flashy remake of Pitch Black, just a slice of life that changed nothing. We get no more answers, no more clues, no more lore; just a new group of people who want to collect the bounty on Riddick’s head, then go drink some booze. TCoR set Twohy and crew up for what could’ve been great but instead we get something we’ve already seen before, yet with a few plot points that needed revising. I am so damn disappointed. I think this image captures how I felt and must’ve looked like while watching the film.