“Riddick,” the third film in the eponymous series, serves as a decent addition to the action genre. The film opens with Riddick (Vin Diesel, “Fast and Furious 6”) stranded on an unknown desert world. A brief scene explains how Riddick came to be on this planet before he is shown adapting to the environment.
There is no human life on the planet, and the wildlife is aggressive and dangerous. After journeying for a long time, Riddick finds a way station and uses it to announce his presence. Two teams of bounty hunters come to challenge Riddick, one for his bounty, the other for different reasons. Riddick requests a ship to leave in exchange for their lives, which leads to the conflict.
The first half of the movie outshines the second. Riddick is most interesting when he is shown fighting for survival on the unknown planet. In these scenes, the audience is treated to a more human side to a character that has previously been portrayed as a superhuman criminal. He is seen in a weakened and vulnerable state and it is easy for viewers to become sympathetic to his plight. The film uses this time to demonstrate Riddick’s intelligence, willpower and strength. Riddick’s interactions with his pet dog are some of the best in the film.
The second half of the film, however, falls short. The focus shifts away from Riddick and on to the bounty hunting teams. The first team, led by Santana (Jordi Molla “88”), is characterized as thuggish and simple minded, while the other, led by Boss Johns (Matthew Nable “Underbelly: Badness”), is characterized to be more professional. Though Riddick appears far less frequently during this half, he remains the most interesting character. The bounty hunters are one note and lack any defining characteristics. Each of them is forgettable. Despite being experienced bounty hunters, Santana’s group constantly makes obvious mistakes that get them killed.
The only redeeming factor of the second half is Riddick’s interactions with Boss Johns. Fans of the series will recognize his connection with this character from the first film.
The film has a decent story and good action scenes, the Fights are creative, and the scenes of Riddick hunting the bounty hunters in the dark are great. The main drawback of the film is that it suffers from bad acting on the part of the secondary cast and falls victim to a rushed ending. Diesel adds charisma to the film, as it obvious he loves playing the character. The film is at its best when not focusing on the bounty hunters, but is instead developing the rivalry between Riddick and Johns. Viewers looking for a deep story will need to look past the surface to avoid disappointment, but fans of violent action films and cheesy dialogue will feel right at home.