(On Cable TV, July 2014) I’m constantly nonplussed at the insistence on making Riddick an ongoing SF franchise. Sure, I was an early fan of Pitch Black. Of course, I really like Vin Diesel. It goes without saying that I wish writer/director David Twohy the best in his career. But after the messy incoherence that was The Chronicles of Riddick, we’ve seen the best that universe had to offer, and it’s something best let go. Not that Riddick is overly enamored of its predecessor either: It’s impressively dedicated at erasing the memory of the previous entry, quickly and definitively putting Riddick back in his favorite environment: battling nature and human opponents on a planet where survival seems unlikely. The first twenty minutes of the film go by with nearly no dialogue, all the better to demonstrate against how much of an invulnerable bad-boy Riddick can be. By the time a “mercenary station” (WHAT???) is reached and two competing teams land to vie for Riddick’s head, the film settles into a comfortable B-movie routine. There are, to be fair, a few good moments here and there. By stripping down to the basic essentials of a survival thriller, Riddick judiciously focuses on its lead character and goes back to straight-up suspense rather than the nonsensical extended mythology of the second film. Other actors get a chance to try to equal Vin Diesel’s usual intensity: There’s a nice rivalry between Matthew Nable and Jordi Mollà as the rival mercenary leaders, while Katee Sackhoff gets to be a little bit more than just “the girl” in the script. Of course, there’s little suspense regarding Riddick’s fate – it’s the kind of film to be watched to see what the protagonist will do to his enemies. (In most movies, we fear when a protagonist is in chains and threatened. In this one, we sit back and anticipate the carnage.) Of course, Riddick is a movie for fans –essentially an attempt to gain operating capital for the next installment. As such, it’s a bit bland, a bit competent, a bit ridiculous and a bit enjoyable. There may or may not be another installment in the series –I don’t particularly care, which is actually a step up from how I felt at the end of the previous film.