(director/writer: David Twohy; screenwriter: based on characters created by Jim and Ken Wheat; cinematographer: David Eggby; editor: Tracy Adams; music: Graeme Revell; cast: Vin Diesel (Riddick), Jordi Mollà (Santana), Matt Nable (Boss Johns), Katee Sackhoff (Dahl), Dave Bautista (Diaz), Raoul Trujillo (Lockspur), Bokeem Woodbine (Moss), Karl Urban (Vaako), Nolan Gerard Funk (Luna), Conrad Pla(Vargas); Runtime: 119; MPAA Rating: R; producers: Vin Diesel/Ted Field; Universal Pictures; 2013)

The third Riddick film in the series is not the charm.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

The third Riddick film in the series is not the charm, though some might find its futuristic sci-fi hokum trappings entertaining for a B-film only in it for a few laughs and to showoff a surly cool tough-guy who takes no shit from anyone. It follows with far less expectations than the weaker Pitch Black (2000) and the commercial flop The Chronicles of Riddick (2004). Director and writer David Twohy (“The Fugitive”/”Waterworld”), directed all three episodes, does more with less in this $38 million budget version. In my opinion, the best of the series and, at least, brings the franchise back from the dead.

It begins with the shit-kicking trash-talking wanted badass killer convict Riddick (Vince Diesel), who in search of his long-lost home planet Furya is betrayed and left stranded and for dead by his deceiving escorts on a sun-scorched desert planet that’s not Furya. It’s an unnamed uninhabitable rocky planet, where he and his loyal CGI created almost domesticated jackal pet are fighting daily for survival against alien creatures–some kind of hybrid jackals (like the pet) and giant scorpions–and the stifling heat. Riddick finally escapes to an outpost mountain cave headquarters created by prior galactic visitors and in order to get off the planet before a deadly storm hits triggers an emergency beacon that brings to the planet the rocket ships of two rival groups of bounty hunters, called Mercs, who are after either the big bounty reward for him (doubled if dead) or personal info.

While alone on the planet, for the film’s first 30 minutes, Riddick, the universe’s most wanted outlaw, covers for us his POV of his dire situation with a nostalgic mumbled voice-over you might have had in a 1950s film noir.

One Merc group is a ragtag bunch of thugs led by the slimy villainous Santana (Jordi Molla), a greedy sadist who wants the reward dough and to cut off Riddick’s head and take it home in a box. The other Merc group is a more professional one led by the no-nonsense, well-equipped and in uniform Boss Johns (Matt Nable), who is on a personal vendetta to find out how his son was killed on this planet when he was in Riddick’s company and therefore wants Riddick alive.

When the severe storm is imminent over the horizon Riddick, fighting with homemade weapons, and his well-armed rival pursuers, are all forced to work together if they want to make it safely off this hostile planet in time.

While the boys try to figure out how to deal with matters and return home in one piece, the lone female in the group, Johns’ blonde statuesque hotshot icy sniper, the ass-kicking second in command, Dahl (Katee Sackhoff), sounds off where her character stands in all the action by saying: “I don’t fuck guys. Occasionally, I fuck them up if they need it.” Sackhoff has the pic’s best line and steals every scene she’s in.

There are many vapid interchangeable characters easily mistaken for one another, much cartoonish gore (it’s what works best), mostly unfunny acerbic wit, unremarkable CGI effects and a dry desert antihero fugitive on-the-run story that lacks not only intelligence and drama but a reason for me to care if the franchise continues. I’ve seen enough. I don’t really care whether or not a fugitive like Riddick can ever go home again–which is the note it leaves us with, as its climax prepares us for another episode if it gets a good box-office to be bankrolled again.