Thursday, 5 September 2013
118 Minutes. Starring Vin Diesel, Jordi Mollà, Matt Nable, Katee Sackhoff, Dave Bautista, Bokeem Woodbine, Raoul Trujillo & Karl Urban. Director: David Twohy.
"I don't know how many times I've been crossed off the list and left for dead...so this 'aint nothing new", grunts Riddick, in Vin Diesel's hallmark baritone. It's clear for actor and subject it's getting personal in this one. For years critics wrote off Vin Diesel-who entered the new millennium with fast cars and dark goggles-once he swapped the petroleum and darkness for kids movies and pacifiers. Still, despite everything Vin's Diesel power is still here and in the tank. After rebranding the 'Fast & Furious' in 2009 and motoring on to a sublime sequel in the 'Italian Job' meets 'Oceans Eleven' all-star 'Fast Five', Diesel refuelled and burned all notions he was 'Expendable' like the rest of the ageing action-heroes and 90's genres. Times look to be getting even better for Vin who has truly earned his parking space on the Hollywood Walk Of Fame and is linked with the 'Avengers: Age Of Ultron' sequel as well as another Marvel comic-book 'Guardians Of The Galaxy'. If that wasn't enough he's set to keep his head shaved to play the legendary bald detective Kojack. Still, that's the future, right now Vin joins maybe fellow Avenger Robert Downey Jnr's 'Iron Man' and 'Sherlock Holmes' by having two major franchises running strong. 'Fast & Furious 6' showed everyone this year that there is no running out of road and a seventh installment filming this fall looks to take it back to the 'French Connection', 'Bullitt' chases of classic car movies.
It's clear you can't stop the ignited Diesel when his engine is running and gunning. He's really injected the nitrogen into his fast paced return to the Hollywood race, which he's ahead of without running the risk of crossing the line. Before he gets back into the driving seat however, it's time for him to go out of this world with his 'other' franchise. It's time for another chronicle of 'Riddick'. Before he even started 'The Fast and Furious' career vehicle, he hit with another franchise catered to him. Riddick became a cult character in the dark space horror classic 'Pitch Black' in the year 2000 of the new millennium. Then came 'The Chronicles Of Riddick' which delved deeper into the story, throwing money, Judi Dench and tea cups at a big blockbuster. Some critics left for earth, but the cult status was enough for an aesthetically attractive animated movie ('The Chronicles of Riddick: Dark Fury') and two vivid video games ('Escape from Butcher Bay' and 'Assault on Dark Athena') which Vin has valiantly been a part of (most actors would bolt or demand more dollars, but Diesel had more sense). Now in a stripped down, low-budget, almost minimum wage (actors wage that is...so still big bucks) film that looks like a cool, graphic video game in itself, Vin and director David Twohy take it back to the essence and formidable formula of 'Pitch Black', albeit with some 'Chronicles' hallmarks, to hunt down the perfect picture for the trilogy.
In a science-fiction, comic-book year that's seen Avengers, Men Of Steel, X-Men, Star Trek's and great original future science-fiction worldly ideas like 'Pacific Rim', 'After Earth', 'Oblivion' and Matt Damon's current trip to 'Elysium', 'Riddick' sits perfectly and pretty next to them all like his latest 'Fast' run. Different from the rest and with it's own legend, this survival guide/man-hunt still has enough block to bust it's way next to the big-budget films that sinks it's spends. Vin Diesel is on the form of his career too, facing down middle-age and any foe and scaring and scarring them all. This one man (and the cutest and coolest alien dog, shades of 'I Am Legend' companionship here) muscles up, fights and strives and survives through it all. Any threat foreign (all the amazing alien life out there), or domestic (a gang of humans playing for blood). On his own, Vin narrates and traverses the beginning of this picture and it's planets landscape perfectly and against them all he proves he's still the man. Funny and with other literal punch-lines to bruise more than just egos the action-hero idea is far from dead...it just moved planet. He's got a lot to deal with too and we aren't just talking about all those crazy crafted creature fears. There's 'Bad Boys 2' despicable villain Jordi Mollà and a buff, old Robin Thicke looking Matt Nable between the blurred lines. As well as the moxie of Katee Sackhoff and another Rock like WWF legend to wrestle with in Dave Batista (which steps up 'Fast Five's' wall-breaking fight club).
There's also great apperances from great character actor Bokeem Woodbine with his own brute baritone, R&B singer Keri Hilson (yep, that was her getting knocked down) and Karl Urban's legend from 'Chronicles'...although we would have loved to see more bones of the 'Star Trek' and new 'Dredd' star. This is Riddick-ulous...in a good way. With an indie feel the film dubbed 'Dead Man Stalking' in its screenplay stages, rewrites Riddick the right way following the trend and bringing the character and story back to life. From superb space ships, to brilliant bikes, the vehicles and awesome aliens help keep this fims velocity in a whole other world. Still, the nature of this beast is Riddick's revenge and the darkest, purest path of this character that has been explored vividly by Vin and the video game market for over a decade. As Vin laughs to himself and bangs his chains against the bars like a calling chant to the Gods it's clear this star has the mettle to make this franchise and film his own again. It's all trademark smiles now for the gruff warrior who's seen through the dark times to return to the light of a big success pay day and year. It's Riddick's world and Vin is playing his part like 'Pitch Black' was illuminated for the first time once again. To any critic out for the actor and character's bounty, who thought he couldn't do it again, shifting a gear from his toy car world..."time's up". The hunter will always emerge from the shadows and reveal what he's truly made of. "Now you aren't afraid of the dark...are you"? TIM DAVID HARVEY.