Cert 15 | By Daniel O’Mahony
IN A heated standoff with bounty hunters Vin Diesel’s Riddick offers some ominous advice: “Forget about the start; it’s the end you want to think about now.” Say what you want about Vin Diesel, he clearly knows his audience: I had forgotten all about the start of this dire movie, and was dreaming desperately of the end.
The Riddick saga began in 2000 with Pitch Black. They’re up to three films now, but as number two was way back in 2004 it’s fair to consider the third a standalone feature.
Riddick has been abandoned, left for dead on a sun-scorched planet. There’s not much sign of life in this wasteland, apart from some toothy striped dogs and an engorged amphibious scorpion. When he’s not fighting these foreign creatures, he’s delivering ominous voice-over monologues. The monologues are supposed to be tortured – but they’re just torture to listen to. As ever, he looks the part of action hero, but his performance is as wooden as his body is muscly. Before long, you’re crying out for some other characters. Literally anyone, it doesn’t matter, just throw them in and shut him up.
But when two sets of bounty hunters turn up to hunt Riddick down, you wish they hadn’t bothered. As bad guy Santana (Jordi Mollona) and stone-faced Boss Johns (Matt Nable) bicker, you long for Vin Diesel to re-emerge from the shadows and provide some more unintentional levity. Special mention is due for Battlestar Galactica’s Katee Sackhoff, who puts in by far the most believable performance as Dahl, a fearless sharpshooter. She can’t save this though: when the film tries to be serious, it’s laughable, and when it tries to crack jokes, it gets it wrong. In one of Riddick’s more profound statements, he explains that there are “bad days; then there are legendary bad days.” If the same distinction is true for cinema, then this is a legendary bad film.