BLOODSHOT

Reviewed by GREG KING

Director: David S F Wilson

Stars: Vin Diesel, Guy Pearce, Eiza Gonzalez, Sam Heughan Alex Hernandez, Toby Kebbell, Lamorne Morris, Talulah Riley, Siddharth Dhananjay.

Vin Diesel and Eiza González in Bloodshot (2020)

Vin Diesel plays Ray Garrison, a former Marine who is reconstructed after being killed following a rescue mission in Kenya. He is given enhanced superpowers and made virtually invincible by mad scientist Emil Harting (Guy Pearce). Harting works for Rising Spirit Technologies, a company which treats wounded soldiers and enhances them with prosthetic limbs and state of the art nanotechnology. Ray’s blood has been replaced by nanites, which make him almost indestructible as he is able to reconstitute himself after being wounded. He becomes an unstoppable killing machine able to heal himself immediately.

He has little memory of what happened to him when he initially wakes up. But soon his memory returns and he sets out on a mission of vengeance to kill Martin Axe (Toby Kebbell) the man who murdered his wife Gina (Talulah Riley) and then Ray. But it turns out Ray is being manipulated by Harting, who is following his own murderous agenda.

Ray keeps repeating a cycle of resurrection and vengeance until he learns the truth and is able to break away from Harting’s control. Which then sets him up against a couple of other enhanced former soldiers, including Navy SEAL Jimmy Dalton (Outlander’s Sam Heughan), who has bionic legs and Tibbs (Alex Hernandez), a blind former sniper. He finds help from former swimming champion KT (Eiza Gonzalez, from Baby Driver) who has been given enhanced breathing capabilities by Harting.

Bloodshot is an origin story for the character created by Kevin Van Hook, Bob Layton and Don Perlun, and published by Valiant Comics. This generic superhero adaptation is based on the graphic comic book about a cybernetic super soldier and remains reasonably faithful to the source material in tone. The comic books have sold over 7 million copies and is the most popular character in the Valiant Comics universe. The script has been written by Jeff Wadlow (the recent Fantasy Island, etc) and Eric Heisserer (Bird Box, Lights Out, etc) and it follows the genre tropes of many other films about enhanced warriors such as Universal Soldier, Robocop and the like, with a touch of Edge Of Tomorrow and Source Code thrown in for good measure. But it adds little that is fresh, and some of the dialogue is clunky and cliched. It also has a high body count.

The film has been directed by David S F Wilson, who hails from a background in visual effects and video games, making his directorial debut here. While this stands him in good stead for this special-effects heavy action movie, his lack of experience is obvious with some pacing problems and his clumsy handling of some of the key action sequences. Some of the choreography of the fight sequences is inept, and the choppy editing from Jim May (Cowboys & Aliens, etc) renders them muddled. 

The testosterone fuelled action has been unimaginatively shot by cinematographer Jacques Jouffret, who previously shot the kinetic action thriller Mile 22. A key sequence involving Bloodshot killing his nemesis Martin Axe is gloomily lit and murky.

Bloodshot is intended to kickstart another potential superhero franchise, and another franchise for Fast & Furious star Diesel. The film is a perfect vehicle for the muscular action star here and makes good use of Diesel’s imposing physical presence and brawn, but his performance is basically a one-note repetition of many of the other one-dimensional screen characters he has played. While he acquits himself well in the action sequences, he mumbles or growls his dialogue, and brings little real emotion or depth to his performance.

Pearce, who replaced Michael Sheen, tries to bring some depth and emotion to his performance as the scientist with a God-complex, but his character is pretty much a walking cliche. Lamorne Morris (from New Girl, etc) brings some much-needed humour to proceedings as IT nerd and genius programmer Wilfred Wiggans who becomes Ray’s ally in defeating Harting.

The film is driven by an interesting premise, but this lacklustre, derivative and cliched film is unlikely to produce a sequel. Bloodshot is not terrible, but it is mainly one for fans of the comic book.

★★☆

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