Review: ‘Riddick’ Is Not ‘Pitch Black’, And That’s Good News

Riddick is the best kind of movie, in its own way; a movie where everybody involved actually wants to be there. It’s not perfect, by a long shot, but Vin Diesel and David Twohy really wanted to make this movie and, more importantly, they got to make the movie they wanted to make.

Despite being the title character, Riddick isn’t the focus of the film. In fact, in a different movie, he’d simply be the bad guy. The movie’s plot kicks into gear because he wants off the rock he’s been dumped on… and the head of Richard B. Riddick is worth enough money that if he puts out the call, bounty hunters will show up with a ship. The movie turns out to be, wisely, more interested in the bounty hunters than Riddick; Riddick’s not a complicated character, after all.

And David Twohy, as a director, is squarely in his element. As fun as The Chronicles Of Riddick was, Twohy is actually at his best when he has a small but elaborate scheme or mystery to unwind for the audience. Vin Diesel, often underrated as an actor, actually enjoys playing the crafty mastermind; while he does get to kick some ass, the fact that he’s always one step ahead of the bounty hunters (and the audience) gives the movie a pleasant tension, even if it does eventually get to be a little much. Yes, there are aliens, and yeah, they’re not friendly, but Twohy knows we have to give a crap about these people (or in some cases, really want to see them get eaten) to make that interesting, and he knows not to imitate Pitch Black.

In the end, this is a throwback to the mid-budget, R-rated action flicks we used to see in theaters all the time. And it’s cheesy, a bit self-serious, a bit silly, but in the end, it’s a stripped-down, solidly plotted and directed action movie that’s worth your time and money. It won’t win any awards, but it’s fun, and that’s hard to knock.