dir David Twohy
scr David Twohy, Oliver Butcher, Stephen Cornwell
prd Vin Diesel, Ted Field, Samantha Vincent
with Vin Diesel, Jordi Molla, Matthew Nable, Katee Sackhoff, Dave Bautista, Nolan Gerard Funk, Bokeem Woodbine, Noah Danby, Neil Napier, Conrad Pla, Andreas Apergis, Karl Urban
release UK 4.Sep.13, US 6.Sep.13
13/Canada Universal 1h59
Night vision: Diesel

sw sw sw
Pitch Black (2000) The Chronicles of Riddick (2004)
The Chronicles of Riddick (2004) [2nd para PLACES]
R E V I E W    B Y    R I C H    C L I N E
Riddick Riddick was introduced in 2000's lean thriller Pitch Black, then became swamped in a murky mythology in 2004's The Chronicles of Riddick. Nine years later we catch up with him on his own again, and he's much more fun without the baggage. Once again, the film is so over-serious that it's faintly ridiculous, but it's packed with nerve-jangling moments.

After being betrayed by his cohort Vaako (Urban), Riddick (Diesel) is left for dead on a harsh desert planet populated by two-legged water-dwelling scorpion things and stripy wild dingos. Riddick of course quickly gets to grips with this, even domesticating one of the doggies, and when he triggers an emergency beacon, two teams of bounty hunters turn up to claim the reward for his capture or death. The first scruffy gang is led by wild-eyed Santana (Molla); the second is slicker, led by the steely Johns (Nable), who has a personal reason for catching Riddick.

The actors have a lot of fun with their meathead roles: everyone's muscly and angry, including Sackhoff as Johns' right-hand woman. Santana's crew includes man-mountain Bautista as an arrogant thug and, for contrast, Danby's nice-guy religious fanatic. Each gets to show off, but this is Diesel's movie, and he's the one who outthinks the interlopers, picking them off one-by-one until they accept his terms.

Twohy keeps the story twisting, with liaisons and betrayals and lots of shouty banter. Some of this is deliberately comical, even if no-one winks at the camera. Most of the action happens at night, with the finale in the pouring rain, which at least improves the boring topography, which seems eerily reminiscent of Disney's John Carter. Of course when the humans are at each others' throats it's far more thrilling than when they're battling animated alien critters.

Diesel exudes the casual confidence of a hulk who knows he can't lose. He plays every situation as all-or-nothing, but the character would be much more compelling away from these dull desert planets and digital creatures that only occasionally don't look like cartoons. It would also help if Diesel and Twohy never returned to that underverse-necromonger nonsense. But they clearly have a bigger story they are dying to tell.

cert 15 themes, language, grisly violence, innuendo 19.Aug.13

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© 2013 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall