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Video Reviews

Plugged In Rating
Content Caution
MPAA Rating
Credits
Genre
Drama, Action/Adventure, Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Cast
Vin Diesel as Riddick; Jordi Molla as Santana; Matt Nable as Boss Johns; Katee Sackhoff as Dahl; Dave Bautista as Diaz
Director
David Twohy (A Perfect Getaway, The Chronicles of Riddick, Pitch Black)
Distributor
Universal Pictures
In Theaters
September 6, 2013
On Video
January 14, 2014
Reviewer
Paul Asay
Riddick

Riddick

It's not just lonely at the top. It's dangerous, too.

Ask anyone who's even been near the top if you don't believe me. You could ask, say, Louis XVI (if he hadn't had his head chopped off), or the Roman emperor Caligula (if he hadn't been assassinated by his own bodyguards), or, in more modern times, any number of corporate CEOs who got canned for underperforming or overperforming or just because, well, someone needed to get fired.

Or you can ask Riddick, if you like.

When last we saw the notorious criminal (in The Chronicles of Riddick), he was the leader of a grim group of galactic marauders named the Necromongers (after defeating the group's previous CEO in sorta-single combat). But, never having read a single self-help book on motivational speaking, Riddick was ill-prepared for management. So after fending off his fair share of hostile takeovers and threats of (literal) termination, Riddick decides to grab what he believes is a golden parachute and get out while the gettin's good—back to his home world of Furya.

Riddick soon discovers that his underlings haven't taken him to Furya at all, but to some dry and hostile planet where they plan to kill him and leave him. Or, if that doesn't work, leave him and let the planet kill him.

But it's always been hard for folks to get rid of ol' Riddick. And he's always been at his best leading a nimble, one-man operation—a feisty startup, as it were. He's got the wits, muscle and foresight (hey, the guy can see in the dark) to survive and even thrive in such an environment, no matter how aggressive his competitors may be.

And, wow, does he have some aggressive competitors. The vicious packs of dingo-like monsters are, really, the least of his problems. Much worse are the water-loving scorpion beasties with the massive pincer-tails and poisonous fangs.

And if those weren't challenge enough, he must also deal with human bounty hunters. The bounty on Riddick's head is practically as big as a planet nowadays—and it's worth double if he's brought back dead.

Like I said, it's dangerous at the top … of a corporation, of a country or of a galactic most-wanted list.

Positive Elements

Riddick is an antihero's antihero—a guy so dark he makes Jack Bauer look like a cartoon character on My Little Pony. He's an admitted criminal, a cold-blooded killer and about the last person you'd ever invite over for Thanksgiving dinner. Unless, of course, you were expecting a company of North Korean terrorists to stop by for dessert, and you and your turkey needed some protection.

That's because, in spite of all his obvious flaws, Riddick's a man of morality (in his own strange way). He'll never go back on his word. He'll often defend those in need. And after watching him for a while, you have to wonder whether the whole "most wanted man in the galaxy" rap was entirely deserved.

The guy takes in and trains one of those dingo-like brutes (called dingo-dongos) and eventually grows fond of it. And while he's not nearly as kind to his human adversaries, he rarely kills them without reason. In fact, he sometimes saves them—even when he suspects they may double-cross him later.

And some of them do. But others actually help Riddick in a pinch—an unfamiliar experience for the big guy.

Spiritual Content

Riddick seems like an unlikely place for spiritual musings. But it contains an overtly Christian character—a bounty hunter named Luna. The dude carries a Bible with him wherever he goes, and when a couple of his compatriots die, the group's leader (Santana) tells him to "say something Bible-like over these bodies." At one point, Luna says that a piece of good news is a sign from God—that He wants them to get off the planet as soon as possible. When fearsome monsters attack, Luna claims to feel the presence of protective angels. He regularly prays and quotes Bible verses.

Luna is such a cartoonish manifestation of faith, though, that you begin thinking the movie's makers are just making fun. But he's still by far the nicest man we see here. Also, a guy who tells Luna to stop blathering about God is killed about a minute later, while a man who defends Luna's right to blather survives—as does Luna himself. Riddick seems to suggest that when you're being chased by limb-ripping creatures, there are worse things you can have than a little faith.

Not that Riddick got that memo. When he hears Luna talk about God, he says, "Leave God out of this. He wants no part of what happens next."

We hear passing references to warlocks and hell.

Sexual Content

Riddick is being called misogynistic by some reviewers, and with some reason. When women show up onscreen, they're often shown as merely objects of sexual desire and/or targets of rape.

We see three naked women languishing in a bed—one is visible full-on from the front—the insinuation being that they're Riddick's playthings. A woman named Dahl takes a shower, and part of her breast is visible as she dries off.

Dahl is a tough mercenary; she is also called a lesbian. (She says, using colorful language, that she doesn't have sex with guys, though she does occasionally beat them up.) She becomes an object of interest for Santana, who directs crude remarks at her and, later, tries to rape her—wrestling her to the ground and writhing on top of her. She responds violently—punching him in the face (breaking his nose) when he talks dirty and leaving a trail of his blood after the attempted rape. "I had to kick his a‑‑ again," she explains to her superior. She accuses him of spying on her in the shower, a charge Santana doesn't deny.

But when it comes to Riddick, Dahl warms up to his lewd banter and coarse come-ons, allowing him to grab her backside as she rescues him. When Riddick parts company with the bounty hunters, he asks one of the guys to "keep Dahl warm for me."

It's implied that another woman, captured by Santana's group of bounty hunters, was repeatedly raped by Santana and others. Luna frees her, but shortly thereafter Santana shoots her in the back, explaining to Luna that he was getting attached to her.

Violent Content

That ruthless killing results in a spray of blood, as do many others. Riddick kills several people with blades, slicing one victim from shoulder to sternum and cutting another man's head in half. (The top of the head slides into a box, leaving visible the man's brain, mouth and tongue.) Riddick sets horrific traps that kill a guy who steps on one of them, turning his leg to hamburger, then hits another one, which snaps onto his torso.

Our "hero" hacks apart several dozen scorpion-snake-like creatures, using knives and clubs and bare hands. (One of the worst killings involves him sliding under a monster and slicing its belly open. The confused beast then begins ravenously devouring its own innards.) He beats up a dingo-dongo and strangles a vulture-like bird.

Riddick gets buried in rubble when a cliff collapses. One of his legs is dislocated (which he painfully snaps back into place), the other possibly broken. We see him take a piece of armor and literally screw it into that latter leg (blood seeps out). Later, Riddick spends lots of time injecting himself (and his dingo-dongo) with the venom of the "scorpions" (again drawing blood and causing a great deal of pain) in an effort to boost their tolerance to the stuff. Then, when one of the monsters embeds part of its pincer in Riddick's chest, he pulls it out (causing a gush of blood) and cauterizes the wound with a burning ember. He's also shot several times with horse tranquilizers. He's hit in the face with a rifle butt and a few fists.

A man is speared by a mongo scorpion tail and smashed repeatedly into a wall until he's dead. Another is yanked through an opening in the ceiling, leaving a trail of blood. A dead man is strung up as a ruse and shot repeatedly (accidentally). A dingo-dongo is poisoned and killed by those ubiquitous scorpion thingies. Another is shot several times in the head. Eel-like creatures are killed, hacked apart, skinned and eaten.

Crude or Profane Language

About 65 f-words, nearly 15 s-words and a chunk of other profanities, including "a‑‑," "b‑‑ch" and "b‑‑tard." God's name is merged with "d‑‑n" four or five times; Jesus' is abused twice. Vulgar references are made to various sexual body parts.

Drug and Alcohol Content

Santana smokes cigarettes. We hear about how morphine is often stolen from a bounty hunter outpost, and Riddick talks about a guy who was a morphine addict.

Other Negative Elements

[Spoiler Warning] Riddick goes free at the end of the story, despite his criminal record and the price on his head. (But there are all sorts of extenuating circumstances that ultimately make that both a good and bad thing.)

Riddick throws up. There's a line about defecating. A dingo-dongo urinates on some prepackaged food.

Conclusion

Riddick, as a person, isn't all bad. Mostly bad, maybe. But not all bad.

If pressed, I guess we could say the same thing about Riddick, the movie. It's not all bad. Just mostly.

Riddick honors its most honorable characters: Those who do the right thing tend to survive. Those that don't are doomed to die. The "good" are rewarded and the "bad" are punished—Hollywood style.

But, oh, how they're punished. The blood and gore and mayhem on display here is extraordinarily punitive, and not just for the onscreen characters. Anyone who walks into the theater is woefully bludgeoned with this content. If a guy's not being shish kebabbed onscreen, a girl is fending off rape. If they're not bleeding, they're cursing.

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