Chronicles of the invincible Riddick

Riddick (Vin Diesel) is back and badder than ever.

Review Action

RIDDICK (M18)

DURATION: 119 minutes
RATING: 3/5
Opens on 12th September

The story: The third in the saga of super warrior and wanted criminal Riddick (Vin Diesel) sees him as the Lord Marshall of the Necromongers, based on the events of the second film The Chronicles Of Riddick (2004). A betrayal finds him abandoned on a desert planet, injured and beset by its vicious wildlife. Using his powers as a member of the Furya race, he heals, but then finds himself the target of bounty hunters, there to take him dead or alive.

Like several writer-directors before him, and many more after, David Twohy was cursed with success when his bare-bones but bloody sci-fi horror work Pitch Black, starring the largely unknown Vin Diesel, landed in 2000.

The major studios came calling and shoved stupid amounts of money at him for a sequel. The Chronicles Of Riddick (2004) resulted, much less violent than its predecessor to win a kid-friendly rating, but also dense with characters who spout religio-mystical space-opera gobbledygook.

It tanked at the box office, naturally, putting the brakes on Twohy's career. Meanwhile, Diesel's roared along, praise be to the muscle cars of the Fast & Furious franchise.

Diesel and Twohy have learnt their lessons, and like the title, the third film is stripped down to the M18-rated essentials that get the work done.

While not quite the return to the form of Pitch Black, this work has at least dispensed with dialogue-heavy Necromonger scripture readings of the second film.

Twohy and Diesel (who has producer credit) instead have stuffed in at least three kinds of movie.

The first third is a survival adventure story that reinforces the notion of Riddick as an iron-willed, unkillable superhuman. The minutes that tick by as he heals and feeds himself while fending off predators like an extra-terrestrial Bear Grylls are entertaining enough.

After the bounty hunters land, the movie turns into a settlers-versus- Indians game (with the settlers as the bad guys) in the second third.

In the home stretch, it becomes the free-for-all bug shoot of Aliens (1986).

The hole in the sail of this enterprise that stops the ship from gaining momentum is the issue of Riddick's invincibility.

Here, he overcomes one setback after another with ease (indicated by looking nonchalant; a higher level of difficulty is shown with a clenched jaw). It is the classic superhero-without-limitations issue.

In early scenes, Riddick's awesome infiltration and escape skill is shown. But by the second half of the film, Twohy has Riddick show up where and when he likes, without explanation.

These facile story turning points hurt what is otherwise a decent return to the roots of the Riddick myth.

johnlui@sph.com.sg


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