I never bothered to see 2004’s The Chronicles of Riddick, but Vin Diesel’s blind convict originated in 2000’s Pitch Black, a fun if slightly throwaway Alien knock-off that saw a transport ship crash on a remote planet populated by vicious bat-like ceatures that only come out when it gets dark. Riddick’s lack of sight put him at an advantage in that scenario, and in the hugely ambitious sequel, Diesel and director David Twohy attempted to build an entire universe around the character.
While that film failed to ignite interest in a franchise, Diesel was enamoured by the character and struck a bargain with Universal Pictures to take ownership of the character in exchange for a cameo appearance in The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift. Re-teaming with Twohy, Diesel retuens to the sensibilities of Pitch Black, as Riddick is dumped on a similarly desolate planet and left for dead. For the first act of the film, Riddick must fend for himself against a hostile environment, vicious stinger creatures, and physical injuries, until he finds shelter and accidentally sets off a homing beacon. Two ships arrive, one carrying a gang of mercenaries, the other a vengeful man from Riddick’s path – and sadly this is where the film falls apart.
Not only are the characters thinly drawn and poorly realised, but Riddick introduces some troubling gender politics into the mix which helps make the whole affair increasingly unpalatable. By the time the film reaches its rain-drenched, and pleasingly bloody finale, any good will generated from the adventurous opening has long since evaporated.