Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Riddick (2013)

Riddick is (so far) David Twohy’s last film, and a great note to go out on. This was the film that introduced me to his body of work. I remember talking about it with some pals online when it came out, and for some reason I had just read a review of Escape from Butcher Bay.

“Would you recommend Riddick?” I asked. “Does he stab anybody with a screwdriver?”

“He stabs people with a lot of things,” said my friend.

I was sold.


I don’t have a high opinion of a lot of media. The stuff Vin Diesel stars in is no exception. The Fast and Furious franchise is garbage. Vin is an average actor, barely star material. I think his emotional attachment to the Riddick character is warranted since Riddick has Diesel’s monotone personality with a shiny coat of paint, the best thing for Vin’s image a filmmaker can provide.

David Twohy was brilliant throughout the production of the Riddick trilogy, though the filmmaker’s seniority gives me pause. Of course there has to be a fourth film. If it gets made, it won’t make as much money as the R-rated record smasher Joker (2019), but I’m sure Hollywood will find a way to justify it. (A Riddick 4 script does exist, and Diesel has read it, but that’s beside the point.)

I’d rather not talk about imaginary sequels. Riddick, the third film in the series, stands on its own as a well-received sci-fi movie. I saw it before the preceding two Riddick films, and I pretty quickly fell in love with the franchise. I could end the review there, but this series deserves deeper examination.

Richard B. Riddick is all about kicking ass. If it’s his teacup against your mercenary army, you can’t stop him. Vin Diesel is Riddick, the toughest hombre in the galaxy. David Twohy knows the secret to writing appealing characters: Make them really good at what they do. But that begs the question: What makes Riddick better than a generic superhero? If you asked him that question, he might kill you with his teacup. You see, Riddick is an antihero: good at what he does, not great at being the good guy.

One could almost draw a comparison between Riddick and Taxi Driver (1976). Maybe I’m just pulling that out of my ass, but bear with me. Both films star antiheroes, and more importantly, both films summarize their protagonists in the title. Travis Bickle is a taxi driver, which is a profession that relates to the character’s personality. Riddick is Riddick, a guy who is by all accounts unemployed, so we just call him by his name rather than calling him Spaceship Driver. They both face challenges and have edgy personalities.

Riddick (the character, the franchise, the movie, the concept) is one of my biggest inspirations. So, naturally, I would recommend the film. Rather than watching it “cold” as I did, you should probably start with Pitch Black (2000) and The Chronicles of Riddick (2004), which offer little in the way of backstory and much in the way of astro-libertarian-nihilism. You can even let the kids watch; it’s not a hard R.