When last seen, Richard B. Riddick (Vin Diesel) had slaughtered his way out of an inescapable space prison and fought through a high-tech alien crew into a Necromonger lordship. But he seemed a little blue. Turns out our bald-headed, glow-eyed super hominid was homesick; he’s never been great company (some might call him snobby), even when confronted with money and babes. So it’s not entirely surprising to find our favorite Furyan battered and alone on an orange-tinted landscape as this new film begins. We don’t wait long to watch him spring back to what he does best — setting his own broken leg between two alien stones and then putting screws into his own flesh to keep it straight. What a man. Except of course, he’s actually an alien, and a modified model at that.
It’s a return to badass basics for Riddick, with a set of problems more in tune with the first Riddick movie, Pitch Black. The first third of this film finds our hero trying to jump a little serpent-protected pond that guards some stairs that lead to a crappy desert. The rest is him in stealth mode beating up space mercs and people from his past. Oh, and way more serpents too.
It makes for cheesy fun. The sets look like T.V.’s Lost in Space and the space motorcycles seem stolen from Flash Gordon, but the appeal is simple. Riddick’s predecessors come from worlds of pulp novels like Conan or Doc Savage, where sheer can-do ruthlessness presides. There’s a lot less to these films than most sci-fi offerings — and that’s a good thing. No great scientific ironies or moral extrapolation of contemporary issues gets explored. These are the voyages of a manly, sneaky guy trying to make his way home through a merciless universe. Who can’t relate?