Dave Wilson’s Bloodshot adaptation is a sanitized superhero origin story that never elevates itself above preconceived expectations. Vin Diesel plays deadly serious despite the film’s tone crying for a more energetic leading protagonist. Tank tops, bulgy biceps, and hard stares detail a comic book movie that lifelessly jumps from page to screen. Dialogue only favors one eccentric hacker, action interludes are frustrating, whirly-blurry messes – hell, I can’t recall the name “Bloodshot” uttered once. Frankly, this could be retitled Angry Science Experiment Man and no editing room modifications would be needed. Worst of all? Cinema’s most unforgivable sin is committed: the fate of being forgettable.
Ray Garrison (Vin Diesel) awakens on a medical bed within Dr. Emil Harting’s (Guy Pearce) RST industrial facility. A soldier pronounced dead, brought back to life with Harting’s nanotechnology bloodstream injections. Garrison suffers from amnesia, but as triggers unlock past traumas, revenge takes motivational control. With his newfound self-healing, strength-enhanced powers, Garrison sets out to kill the man who executed his wife – over, and over, and over again. Doing Harting’s bidding without cognizant control.
Diesel lives, dies, and repeats his character’s cyclical assassinations as a man on a rebooted mission. RST’s other enhanced wounded warriors either sympathize with Garrison’s reprogrammable fate (Navy survivor KT played by Eiza González) or hate Garrison’s guts for no important reason (legless Jimmy Dalton played by Sam Heughan). As Garrison murders his way to another marked target, RST employees surveil from satellite imagery while nature (subliminally) takes its due course. Conflict is sparse in the early stages of production, excitement relying on badass saunters towards the camera as Diesel’s invincible bioweapon coldly caps Harting’s hit list collective.
It’s the nondescript villainy of Bloodshot that dilutes morally subjective science extravagance. Garrison’s abilities are imaginatively tremendous, yet his foes “develop” with such basic tedium. Special ops soldiers who gruffly assure there’s no military force who could stop them (until Garrison arrives). Dalton’s antagonistic signatures of…*checks notes*…chewing gum in revolting fashion or blowing snot rockets. Pearce himself is just another robotics hybrid with glasses and a God complex. Grey jumpsuits, monochromatic backdrops, hired henchmen pounding on keyboards until “cracking” coded conundrums – it’s all so repetitive. Even RST headquarters looks blueprinted after Stark Tower.
Once unleashed, Garrison’s heavy-hitting combat rarely lives up to Wilson’s visual effects background. Dalton’s mechanized lower appendages are a constant source of eye strain, especially since his RST upgrade apparently allows Dalton to morph into a horrendously CGI’ed blob once top speeds are reached. It’s either that or Wilson’s fight choreography treats Garrison like some land shark who rips adversaries off screen, somehow undetected. These unremarkable merits overshadow nanobot cloud formations whenever Garrison’s fleshy tissue is shredded by explosions – then surgically stitched together by an army of mite-sized machines – which is where effects work spends a lopsided focus of attention (animates neatly, at least).
Bloodshot should be a movie genetically engineered to my liking. A heartbroken “hero” who escapes his master’s shutdown protocol. Heavy red color filtration that moodily spotlights Garrison’s rage when cleaning an entire highway tunnel of mercenary scum (admittedly *my shit* as baking flour flutters like snowflakes). Lamorne Morris’ scene-stealing “guy in the chair” Wilfred Wigans, take-out Chinese food addict and genius programmer with a sarcastic British wit. There are moments when Jeff Wadlow and Eric Heisserer’s screenplay shines or pokes fun at the very “generic” story being told (overusing the “dancing evil psychopath” trope in movies), and yet, too frequently, it’s exactly that: a very generic comic book adaptation. Building another cinematic universe by stealing the blocks from other existing foundations. Look no further than Eric (Siddharth Dhananjay), RST’s leading tech bro, who’s embarrassed about the size of his…you know.
Not joking. A “six inches” joke leads to an awkward interaction between Eric and Harting because one-off privates gags aren’t enough – except the latter isn’t played for laughs. Unintentionally awkward, and exemplifying one major issue with Bloodshot. The film is too deadpan to land such (poorly written) “comedy,” yet attempts off-paced humor insertions nonetheless.
Vin Diesel is doing his best Vin Diesel impression. Early sequences are that of Dominic Toretto’s familial brotherhood and Xander Cage’s bedding of beautiful women (seriously, is this a contractual obligation). Then, upon becoming “Bloodshot,” Diesel goes one-dimensional with the charisma of a Rocky Balboa punching bag. Pearce’s manipulative egomaniac keeps remarking how Garrison is fueled by an emotional connection and immense heartache, but we see none of that on screen. What we witness are a bunch of slow-motion shots where Diesel mean-mugs, followed by punches and kicks that send baddies flying through drywall. Rinse and repeat, no danger. Characters like KT attempt to humanize Garrison by proxy, but supporting presences lack this ability given each additional character’s own retractable arc (Eiza González deserves more to do for farts sake).
Bloodshot isn’t an epic failure or sensational nosedive. It’s just a run-of-the-mill comic blockbuster that struggles to manifest its own identity. Where something like Birds Of Prey instantly hooks into Harley Quinn’s color-poppin’ personality, Bloodshot lurches forward like an autopilot hunter-prey scenario which references everything from Terminator to A Nightmare On Elm Street to Spider-Man. Ray Garrison is a tortured soul, noted, but Vin Diesel’s take on the stone-cold executioner becomes nothing more than a brute physical display (maybe that’s enough for some). Even then, as mentioned above, Bloodshot struggles to be anything but questionable metallic CGI advancements and uninventive action beats. Virtual reality mind games aside, this ruthless shot to a supersoldier’s heart misses the mark.
Bloodshot shoots to kill, but with the accuracy of a Stormtrooper - off the mark and leaving much to be desired.