Richard B. Riddick, the intergalactic ex-con with the gravelly voice, bulging biceps and nightvision eyes, is a hard guy to feel afraid for. No matter what the odds, no matter how dire his chances of survival, he is impossible to kill.
Kind of like Vin Diesel himself. Through sheer force of his considerable will (not to mention his rejuvenated box office bankability), Diesel has brought his sci-fi alter ego Riddick back for a third film, simply titled Riddick, opening this week.
This, despite Diesel having made a series of career blunders that would have sunk a lesser star. It's like he steps on a land mine, blows his legs clean off then sews the mangled limbs back on and discovers he can run even faster than before.
Here's a look at some of Diesel's bigger movie mistakes, and how he recovered from each one... against all odds.
Knockaround Guys (2001)
After drawing positive attention for his role in Saving Private Ryan and then cementing himself as a next-gen action star in Pitch Black, Diesel made this dismal gangster film with the likes of Private Ryan co-star Barry Pepper and noted tough guy Seth Green.
The bounceback: The Fast and the Furious came out the same year, and all was forgiven. Or at least forgotten.
Remember when this was supposed to be the start of a new franchise with Diesel as an extreme sports version of James Bond? Yeah, not so much. The movie did well at the box office, but the whole thing was so goofy that Diesel walked away from the franchise. (Though there have been rumours he's now contemplating a Riddick-style rebirth for Xander Cage.)
The bounceback: Ice Cube starred in the 2005 sequel, xXx: State of the Union, which was so much worse that it made the first movie look like Skyfall in comparison.
The Chronicles of Riddick (2004)
Pitch Black is a great, uncomplicated sci-fi action movie. But Diesel's plans for the Riddick universe were far grander, envisioning a franchise with a sprawling, Lord of the Rings-calibre mythology. Unfortunately, The Chronicles of Riddick was so silly and confusing it pretty much sunk the series. At least until now, when Diesel's newfound Hollywood clout means he has the power to bring Riddick back.
The bounceback: Diesel, a self-confessed game geek, wrote the foreword for a 2004 Dungeons & Dragons retrospective, and the nerd-love meter spiked considerably.
Babylon A.D. (2008)
Even on paper, Vin Diesel starring in a stylish sci-fi movie by an arty French director didn't make much sense, but the reality proved to be worse. The reviews for this film were even more scathing than those for other notable Diesel dogs, such as 2003's A Man Apart and 2005's Disney comedy The Pacifier. C'est terrible.
The bounceback: After this disaster, Diesel did three Fast & Furious movies back-to-back, each one raking in a bigger pile of cash than the one before it. At this point he could probably get a Babylon A.D. Part II made if he really wanted to. Let us hope he doesn't.