Vin Diesel’s new movie Bloodshot is the action film star’s Diesel-est movie yet. You can make a drinking game out of every time he does Vin Diesel-y things – grumble talking, mean-mugging his co-stars, punching inanimate objects. Diesel and Director Dave Wilson bring the popular Valiant Comics character Bloodshot to life in this ultra-violent sci-fi action flick.
Ray Garrison (Vin Diesel) might be the world’s greatest soldier (even if we don’t know which arm of the military he’s “soldiering” for). We first meet him on a mission in an African slum as he makes short work of every bad guy who gets in his way. The way he effortlessly mows down his targets looks like a Call of Duty player making his way through a level for the 100th time. (Actually, he kind of is).
Ray completes his mission and returns home to his loving wife, only to get kidnapped by some generic villain. We never learn this sleazebag’s backstory, and truthfully, it doesn’t matter. At the end of the day, Ray ends up with a bullet in his head. But that’s not the end of good ol’ Ray Garrison. This is a comic book movie, after all, and we’re witnessing a new superhero’s origin story.
Ray wakes up in a lab run by Dr. Emil Harting (Guy Pearce), a genius tech-nerd with a dope cybernetic hand – honestly, it whoops and whirs every time he makes a hand gesture. Dr. Harting brought Ray back by infusing his blood with ridiculously powerful nanites that make him stronger, faster, and nearly invincible. He can also connect to the internet by thinking – but I don’t know if anyone in this film has much time for something as trivial as thinking. Dr. Harting has assembled a team of cybernetically enhanced soldiers meant to, I don’t know, keep the world safe? Dr. Harting has a kind of benevolent Victor Frankenstein vibe going on.
Before Ray joins his new team (which includes a badass turn from (Eiza González as KT), he needs to settle the score with the scumbag who killed him. But once he starts his quest for vengeance, it becomes clear Dr. Harting’s super-soldier program is hiding some dark secrets.
Let’s be clear: Bloodshot is an action-packed thrill ride. But I can’t say that it’s good. It’s the type of film where a lot of cool things happen, but it’s like the movie is going out of its way to keep you from caring. A big part of that is Jeff Wadlow and Eric Heisserer’s script, which is more interested in plot and spectacle than developing characters.
Aside from Lamorne Morris’ comical hacker side-kick Wilfred Wigans, we don’t get a clear sense of who these characters are, what they want, or why they’re together. Making matters worse, everyone is so damn cool. Ray, KT, and Wilfred are the best at what they do. And whether that’s kicking ass or hacking source codes, they always get the job done and look cool doing it.
Unflappable heroes look badass AF, but they’re hard to root for. It’s the difference between cheering for Indiana Jones and The Terminator. Watching an indestructible MF’er like Ray, aka Bloodshot, is like watching someone play video games with the cheat codes on; it never feels like much of a challenge. This is where it falls onto the script to establish emotional stakes, since there is never a real physical threat. But this never occurs.
Again, a lot of wild moments happen, but I was never fully invested. Even after the film pivots and Dr. Harting becomes the villain, it doesn’t feel like a big deal. The character is so bland that you don’t even care enough to hate him. The most intriguing thing about the character was anticipating inventive way Ray would choose to pulverize his smug face.
If you’re thinking, at least Bloodshot features great action sequences to make up for the forgettable characters? My answer is, well… kind of. Bloodshot looks like a big-budget comic book movie, but how much you enjoy it is a matter of taste.
Cinematographer Jacques Jouffret captures the action in a frenetic, close-up, shaky-cam style. The way the camera rapidly cuts between every punch, kick, and head smash left me disoriented at times.
More often than not, Wilson isn’t trying to stage a well-choreographed action sequence so much as give the viewer a visceral reaction. Although I couldn’t make out what I was watching, the fights conveyed a sense of chaos and brutality. You’re more likely to say “WTF?” than “That’s cool AF.”
When the action does slow down long enough for your brain to process what’s happening, Bloodshot looks fantastic. I enjoyed the way gunshots activated the nanites in Ray’s blood. And I loved how blood splatters would swirl around in the air before re-entering his ragged body. The last twenty minutes, in particular, hit me like a shot of adrenaline.
Bloodshot isn’t a good movie, it’s a good enough movie. I can’t think of a film this audacious that is also so forgettable. But if I was flipping channels and I stumbled across one of Bloodshot’s action sequences, I would sit back and enjoy the ride.