The Fourth Riddick Film: 3 Things It Needs To Be Great
I love the Riddick movies. I love their “Conan the Barbarian in Space” feel, I love Vin Diesel’s savagery and charm, I love the little touches that most sci-fi blockbusters would never think of, like the imam and his sons praying towards Mecca from another planet. I adore Riddick.
Sadly, most of the world doesn’t seem to understand why. Most of the time, that’s okay: Riddick can be our little secret. But Vin Diesel has hinted that he and David Twohy are working on a fourth entry in the Riddick film franchise. That’s a fourth opportunity to earn Riddick the stardom he so richly deserves.
So as a nobody with half a film degree and entirely too much free time, I’d like to offer a couple of suggestions as to what could make for a good - even great - follow-up to the last three movies.
1) Less Fantasy, More Sci-Fi
This movie had a $120 million budget. And somehow, this happened.
Pitch Black’s future was a world of cargo ships and eye-drop drugs, crooked cops and prison surgeries. Its characters were imams, prospectors, and company pilots. In other worlds, its setting had one foot in our reality.
Chronicles throws this out in favor of elementals, epic prophecies, and straight-up magic. It’s not bad, necessarily, but it loses a lot of its edge. It feels less like its own thing and more like Vin Diesel’s personal Dungeons & Dragons game. And while I too know the allure of D&D, I also know that there comes a time when you have to admit that it doesn’t go well with everything.
In Pitch Black, Riddick was a badass because he fought his way up from nothing, out of spite and sheer force of will. In Chronicles, he’s a badass because of some prophecy and also he was a genetic warrior baby all along! So he didn’t really earn anything in his life, it was just handed to him by the same clichéd backstory from every fantasy film ever made?
To that I say meh. Let Riddick be a badass on his own terms.
2) A Different Plot
I wasn't kidding about the teacup.
Ever notice how the Riddick stories only ever have two plots? Either Riddick is fighting his way out of a hellhole, or he’s fighting some other guy for social dominance. Or both, simultaneously.
Let’s mix it up a little. Riddick gets blackmailed into acting as an assassin in a gangland conflict on a mining planet. Riddick plans an elaborate revenge against the corrupt judge who convicted him. A cargo ship is hijacked by pirates and Riddick has to eliminate them in a game of cat-and-mouse from the shadows.
Think about it. You’d watch those movies, right? So would I. Because they would be awesome.
3) Less Riddick
Fun fact: Riddick is not the main character in this movie.
Okay, okay, hear me out.
Look. We all love Vin Diesel, no one more than me. He warmed our hearts as kids in The Iron Giant, he rocked our socks off in Pitch Black, and he warmed our hearts all over again in Guardians of the Galaxy. But we need to acknowledge that the biggest problem in the Riddick films these days is Riddick himself.
In Pitch Black, Riddick worked because he was a side character, someone the others couldn’t trust but had to rely on. He was there to show up the hypocrisy and weakness of polite society, as a commentary on the main cast - not to be the center of attention. Make him “the good guy” as Chronicles did, and he becomes boring: just another cookie-cutter macho badass action hero.
So Mr. Diesel, if you’re reading this, relax: we already love Riddick just the way he is. We don’t need to know more about him - it’s enough just to see more of him. And please don’t knife me to death in my sleep.
How Likely is All of This to Happen?
Well, Vin Diesel’s already hinted that the fourth movie will be about Furya, which brings with it a lot of the baggage that the mythology just doesn’t need: the predestination, the magical mumbo-jumbo, the backstory no one asked for. So if Vin and David Twohy have a direction in mind for the series, this might not be it.
And that’s not the worst thing in the world, y’know? Ultimately, neither you nor I own Riddick or his stories. I’ll be happy to watch my favorite stone-cold knife-wielding killer no matter what sort of trouble he ends up in.
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