Film (2013). Universal Pictures and One Race Films in association with Radar Pictures. Written and directed by David Twohy. Cast includes Vin Diesel, Katee Sackhoff and Karl Urban. Theatrical version 119 minutes; Director's Cut 207 minutes. Colour.
After rising from wanted fugitive to Lord Marshal of the Necromongers in The Chronicles of Riddick (2004), Riddick undertakes a quest for his homeworld Furya but is betrayed and abandoned on an arid planet, whose lethal water-dwelling predators are confined to mudholes during dry times but emerge in pestilent numbers in the rains. Reasoning that his only hope of escape is to lure bounty-hunters to kill or capture him for the price on his head, he lures two ships, one commanded by the vengeful father of the bounty hunter killed in Pitch Black (2000), only for their squabbling to leave all exposed to the creatures' attack in the first rainstorm.
Following the commercial failure of the ambitiously Space Operatic 2004 film, Diesel was able to leverage his involvement in the massively lucrative Fast and Furious franchise to purchase the rights and finance this third feature instalment independently, but had to settle for a greatly reduced budget and a back-to-roots storyline of survival against in a planetary Ecology of digital Monsters. Though the film restored the franchise to modest profitability, it stands as an interlude between much grander episodes in the saga previously mapped out, deferring resolution of the interstellar arc and reverting instead to the planet-bound Horror template of Pitch Black, whose plot is knowingly recycled to no great advantage, with the return to an R rating largely squandered on cussing, decapitation, and occasionally startling misogyny. Twohy is back in his safe zone with the boilerplate B-movie setup and cast, and Diesel delights adequately in a return to his signature role, but the reversal of the franchise's exhilarating escalation in ambition from modest planetary horror to sprawling galactic epic leaves the film feeling like a placeholder in its series and its makers' works, particularly after the virtuosic trick narrative of Twohy's previous (non-sf) film A Perfect Getaway (2009), a career high. The Director's Cut adds some Chronicles-related sequences among the Necromongers at beginning and end, including a surprising exoneration of the theatrical cut's putative traitor, and a piquant sequel-tease promising a Transcendent journey into the Underverse Dimension. [NL]
Previous versions of this entry