California-born writer-director David Twohy caused a bit of a splash 20 years ago with his script for The Fugitive, but really made a name in 2000 when he wrote and directed Pitch Black. This aptly named and truly scary sci-horror outing introduced the galaxy to Riddick (gravel-voiced Vin Diesel), a lethal fugitive with glow-in-the-dark eyes and shockingly brutal survival skills. The movie itself also proved to be a survivor: the threequel has just landed in the cineplex under the reductive name of Riddick.
Left for dead on a hostile planet, Riddick fights off all sorts of nasty critters till he makes it to an abandoned security station where he punches the alarm button, thus activating a bio-scan that he knows will identify him as a fugitive. The plan is to steal the spaceship of any bounty hunters who arrive to capture him. Things get tricky when two rival squads appear: one leader is a blustering goof who literally wants to bring home Riddick’s head in a glass box; the other guy, more disciplined, is intent on taking him alive. (Could there be a hidden agenda at work?) And so it goes, with lots of macho posturing and man-on-man mayhem – until, that is, hundreds of the planet’s alligator-sized scorpion beasties invite themselves to a tasty human banquet.
Although not the strongest entry in the series, Riddick mostly rises above its low-budget look and sometimes-silly special effects. Diesel remains a compelling screen presence, and has a lot of fun interacting with the movie’s lone female, a babe of a bounty hunter who “isn’t into guys” – a point she makes with amusing force on a couple of occasions. For genre fans, this is a decent enough time-waster.
Riddick continues at the Odeon, SilverCity and the Westshore