'Riddick' a fun but average action flick

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One Race Productions

The life of Richard B. Riddick (Vin Diesel) continues in the third installment of the “Riddick” film series as the eponymous hero has to fend off creatures, mercenaries and bounty hunters on an unknown planet.

The first act of the movie, which is minimal and stripped to the bare bones, may very well be the best. Riddick is stranded on a deserted planet with bloodthirsty, wild alien creatures. This part of the planet is a rocky wasteland interrupted by muddy pools, where scorpion-like “mud demons” live. Riddick does not have any tools to his advantage, aside from the signature blackout welding goggles that shield his light-sensitive eyes. He is an action hero devoid of gadgets and guns, and he must tap into his raw survival instincts and fashion weapons out of rocks and bones. This character is equal parts cunning and brutal.

Once Riddick makes his way beyond the wasteland to an outpost station, he activates a distress beacon, and two groups of people descend on the planet. One group consists of bounty hunters who want Riddick’s head in a box, the other of mercenaries who need information from him. Unfortunately, all of these supporting characters are plagued by the same fate: They’re not particularly memorable.

There is an interesting dynamic at play with the two separate factions bickering; however, many of the characters are one-note.

Worse, though, is that some of them are so bland that it’s impossible to allot a single interesting adjective to their personality.

As a character, Riddick is rife with all of the machismo and posturing typically seen in tough-guy protagonists, possibly even more so than usual. He doesn’t waste a line when it comes to asserting himself as dominant and in control, but many of these lines are so cringeworthy that they can’t help but elicit a chuckle at their absurdity. Diesel’s gruff, heavy delivery feels overdone at times, but it’s hard to imagine such lines delivered any other way from a rough character like Riddick.

Despite the occasionally boring dialogue, Riddick’s physical presence on screen does commands attention, and the film manages to be largely entertaining. After Riddick’s pursuers have set up camp on the planet, the second act of the story has Riddick assuming the role of a stalker, setting traps in the darkness and picking the enemy off one by one.

Anyone going into the theater expecting typical action-movie tropes will be pleasantly surprised to find that “Riddick” does have its twists and turns. Of course, those who have kept up with the series won’t miss a beat, but those who have not seen previous installments won’t be lost, either.

It’s not high art, but it’s not a regrettable two hours in the slightest: the very definition of a popcorn flick.

Grade: C


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