In the latest installment of the Riddick franchise, Katee Sackhoff returns to her sci-fi wheelhouse as Dahl, a seasoned, swaggering sniper who punches first, apologizes never. And while Starbuck hid her messier emotions behind a wall of toughness, Dahl has no such need; she’s fierce because she’s a grown woman who’s seen it all, and doesn’t have time for your bullshit.
This makes Dahl even more undeserving of the crummy, misogynistic treatment the character receives in this latest Vin Diesel male fantasy flick. Warning: Spoilers Ahead.
The film begins with the anti-hero, Riddick, alone on a desolate, scorched planet, where he’s been left to die. While surviving in the wasteland by camping in caves and fighting the planet’s nastier predators with a silly five-foot switchblade he’s fashioned from rock and bone, Riddick finds an abandoned mercenary’s outpost and activates its beacon, intending to steal the first ship that answers the call, and make his escape. Enter Dahl and the others.
Actually, two bands of mercenaries arrive. Dahl is a sniper and second-in-command on an organized, paramilitary team. The other group is a motley crew of thugs whose rapey, greasy leader, Santana, mocks Dahl’s team for their “matchy-match” outfits. Apparently, it’s now a rule that all characters named Santana be snarky.
When Santana hits on Dahl, she coldly retorts, “I don’t fuck guys. But occasionally, I fuck ’em up,” and proceeds to break his face with her fist. Dahl appears to be nobody’s boy toy. And gay.
Later, Santana tries to put his hands on Dahl. This time, she gives him a full-blown beat-down, explaining afterwards, “I had to kick his ass. Sorry. Not really.”
Dahl sounds great, right? Wrong. Sadly, the film fails to see Sackhoff’s character all the way through and instead, dials her back until she’s either topless or in the embrace of Vin Diesel’s biceps. Dahl isn’t pronounced “doll” for nothing. Here Riddick’s worst moments:
In the film’s one unnecessary, gratuitous nude scene, Dahl bares her breast while Riddick (and the audience) voyeuristically watches her bathe. I’m not for or against seeing Katee Sackhoff’s nipple but if that’s the case, then Vin Diesel needs to drop his pants. How far into the future must we travel for double standards to become extinct?
A more odious scene comes when Riddick is captured and chained to a chair in the outpost. He assures the mercenaries that he will not only free himself, kill Santana, and escape, he growls a promise to “go balls deep” in Dahl, but only “after she asks me, really pretty like.” Did he really just say that? Yes, yes he did. While Starbuck would have made it physically impossible for Riddick to go balls deep into anything after a comment like that, Dahl seems to be charmed by his creepy arrogance and menacing mumbling. Seriously? Remember kids: You can’t spell misogyny without OMG.
Towards the end of the story, Dahl rescues Riddick from the top of craggy outcropping. She straddles him during the airlift up to the ship and says, “I have something to ask you, real pretty like.” Perhaps this enormous penis inspired her ardor. Who knows, but I’m officially embarrassed for Katee Sackhoff.
If you like the Riddick movies or sci-fi pulp with great CGI mattes, then this is the film for you, as long as you can ignore the tired trope of female characters who, no matter how self-possessed and competent, can’t resist the overwhelming sexuality of the male hero. This one is rendered even worse by the possibility that Dahl might a lesbian who doesn’t fuck guys, unless, of course, that guy is Riddick. Because as we all know, lesbians just need a real man to fix us. And that’s just Riddickulous.
Riddick is now playing at a theater near you.