Based on the Valiant Comics character of the same name, Bloodshot follows Ray Garrison (Vin Diesel), a killed-in-action marine who is brought back to life with enhanced nanotechnology. The company RST – Rising Spirt Technologies – transform him into an enhanced warrior, and as his disintegrated memories creep back to the surface, so does a thirst for vengeance.
Let’s not mince words: the first half-hour of Bloodshot is utter tripe, a dispiriting homage to the testosterone-fuelled nonsense that populates Michael Bay’s wetdreams, as well as giving screen time to the tight-fitting white tank top Vin Diesel just can’t seem to do without. However, a semi-decent post-Act I twist reverses things, and the narrative starts to get interesting. Jeff Wadlow and Eric Heisserer’s script reveals an extra layer of self-awareness to their story, explaining why the opening act felt so damn generic. It’s a bold gambit that blends Source Code and Upgrade with a heavy dose of Memento – a touchstone made all the more glaring with the presence of Guy Pierce playing RST’s head honcho. However, for the ambitious gambit to work and the opening to be excused as naff-by-design, the film needed to rise to its self-imposed challenge and shift to a higher gear, thereby making the second half more audacious and less by-the-numbers. It doesn’t, preferring to stay in neutral, and you’re left with an aggressively derivative flick with ideas above its station.
That being said, if this is to be the first instalment in a series of films set within the Valiant universe, Bloodshot is by no means a death knell. It’s a passably entertaining missed opportunity that’s a lot dumber than it thinks it is. Nothing wrong with that, even if it does make you wonder why they chose a first-time director to helm the project – David S. F. Wilson’s direction ends up as disappointing as Wadlow and Heisserer’s script – and why they cast Diesel, whose infuriatingly lifeless vocal rasp limits his charisma-levels to the ranks of a fire-damaged plum. While it’s tough to fully dismiss someone who has done so much with such limited range, it’s undeniable that the cameoing and capable-of-emoting Toby Kebbell would’ve been a much bolder choice for the lead role.
Bloodshot | Directed by David S. F. Wilson (US, 2020), with Vin Diesel, Guy Pierce, Eiza González, Toby Kebbell. Starts Mar 5.
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