In the colorful lingo of one of its cut-throat mercenaries, Riddick (2013) takes “the jinx off the janx.”
It’s not because he was destined to become ruler of the universe. It’s because Riddick is a person who is always counted out by society, always “checked off the list,” and always left for dead…but who keeps fighting nonetheless. The film's brilliant first shot -- a vulture moving in for the kill, over Riddick's apparent corpse -- expresses this dynamic beautifully.
This is a big deal for Riddick, a cynic and a critic of human nature.
Again, that's not what I expected out of a second sequel with so much history. Riddick may not have an easy time with making human friends, but he and this dog really bond, a fact which makes some of the action later in the movie tough sledding for animal lovers.
But in a weird (and oddly touching...) way, Riddick’s is at his most vulnerable ever in this film, showing grudging affection for that loyal dog. Watching these long scenes with Riddick and his canine companion, I was pleasantly reminded of moments from Robinson Crusoe and other stories in which man and animal -- fighting the same enemies and bracing the same landscape -- turn to one another for friendship.
Possessed of a solid visual imagination -- which gives rise to sights like flying Harleys called "jet hogs" -- and a deeply embedded sense of humor, especially in one scene involving an explosive device on a locked door, Riddick pretty much delivers everything it promises. The film is low-budget for a space epic, to be certain, but high-impact in terms of the pure, nasty fun it delivers.
Free of pretension and girded by invention, Riddick gets the job done. I hope Universal, David Twohy, and Vin Diesel get the chance to make another entry in the durable franchise before too long.