(Photo: Universal Pictures/Jan Thijs)
The third and final installment in Vin Diesel's "Riddick" trilogy features a Christian who frequently quotes the Bible. While Christian reviewers condemned the harsh violence and language pervasive in the film, they pointed to this character as a glimmer of light in a bad movie.
"Riddick" is "nothing I would recommend to anybody," Paul Asay, senior associate editor for Focus on the Family's review blog, Plugged In, told The Christian Post in a Friday interview. Nevertheless, "if you decide to ignore all advice and go see it anyway, there's some value in there," he admitted.
The new film shows the title character, Riddick, tricked onto a foreign planet with deadly scorpions and left for dead. Bounty hunters chase him, and when one group catches him and is about to cut off his head, the creatures arrive, killing everyone in a bloody mess.
Amid the senseless cursing and violence, a glimmer of hope emerges, Asay said. One of the bounty hunters, a man named Luna, constantly quotes the Bible and even says that angels will protect him.
The Focus on the Family reviewer noted that Luna comes off as a bit off-his-rocker. "It felt a little bit tone deaf in terms of how most Christians I know interact with their faith," Asay said, mentioning the character's over-the-top excitement with his faith.
Nevertheless, Luna proves "one of the nicest bounty hunters you can find in this movie," and the filmmakers seem to like him, the reviewer explained. When another bounty hunter tells Luna to stop mentioning God, he dies a few seconds later. The Christian, however, makes it through to the end credits.
"Even though the character is awkward, the movie is trying to present faith in a positive light," Asay argued. When asked if the name "Luna" was likely meant to hint at the Christian's craziness – a play off the term "lunatic" – Asay argued instead that it might refer to the moon, which "shines light into very dark places."
The Movieguide review echoed Asay's comments, noting that "these Christian elements are positive," but "overall, the movie is excessive, containing too much foul language, lewd content, and graphic violence." While the visual effects prove stellar, the film bears little structure or character development, the review added. It condemned the main character as nearly lacking any moral compass.
FOTF's Plugged In also saw positive aspects about Riddick's sense of honor. While circumstances require him to be bloody, Riddick will defend those whom he feels is worth defending and only kills people if he has to. The bounty hunters, on the other hand, abuse women and kill with abandon. The Christian Luna sticks out like a sore thumb.
"There's no question that Hollywood is starting to understand the power of the Christian box office," producer and filmmaker Phil Cooke, founder and chief executive officer of Cooke Pictures, told The Christian Post. He mentioned films like "The Book of Eli," "Les Miserables," and the upcoming film "Noah" featuring Russell Crowe as examples of a more friendly trend toward Christianity in Hollywood. Even TV shows like "Breaking Bad" involve a clear moral compass, Cooke argued.