September 6, 2013 12:00 AM

‘Riddick’: A stripped-down strongman for our times

Movies like “Riddick,” a satisfyingly primitive spectacle, help explain the unlikely ascendancy of Vin Diesel as a man of cinema. With his hypertrophied body and Barry White purr, Diesel — much like his more sweetly appealing brother in brawn, Dwayne Johnson — embodies a particularly salient caricature of masculinity, one that appears to transcend obvious racial identity to make him an ideal modern Everybrute. If Arnold and Sly became the cartoon emblems of Reagan-era might, Diesel has come into his own as a contemporary hero, one who suggests a postrace ideal, even as he affirms old-fashioned power with displays of annihilating violence.

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