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Bloodshot Review

March 17, 2020 | Posted by Jeffrey Harris
Vin Diesel Bloodshot
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Bloodshot Review  

Directed By: Dave Wilson
Written By: Jeff Wadlow, Eric Heisserer; Based on the Valiant comics and characters created by Kevin VanHook, Bob Layton and Don Perlin
Runtime: 109 minutes
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence, some suggestive material and language

Vin Diesel – Ray Garrison/Bloodshot
Eiza González – Katie/KT
Guy Pearce – Dr. Emil Harting
Sam Heughan – Jimmy Dalton
Alex Hernandez – Tibbs
Toby Kebbell – Martin Axe
Lamorne Morris – Wilfred Wigans
Talulah Riley – Gina Garrison
Siddharth Dhananjay – Eric
Jóhannes Haukur Jóhannesson – Nick Baris

In a post-MCU landscape, comic book superhero movies are more prevalent than ever. So, it’s not surprising that even a lesser known property such as Bloodshot could get greenlit as a major motion picture. Unfortunately, despite boasting Fast and Furious megastar Vin Diesel in the lead, it’s just a dull, schlocky, paint-by-numbers mess rather than anything really fresh, new and exciting.

Bloodshot stars Diesel as the uber-soldier Ray Garrison (Diesel). Fresh off a mission rescuing hostages in Mombasa, he’s finally able to return home for a much-deserved vacation with his wife, Gina (Riley). Unfortunately, they barely have a day alone together before they are kidnapped by a psychopath named Martin Axe (Kebbell). Axe brutally murders Gina in front of Ray, and soon Ray suffers the same fate. Then, he awakes, miraculously alive, in the lab of bleeding-edge cybernetics, Rising Spirit Technology, headed up by the seemingly benevolent CEO, Dr. Emil Harting (Pearce).

Harting turns wounded soldiers into cybernetic augmented badasses, and Ray is his latest test subject after his dead body was donated to RST for science. Ray’s blood system has been completely replaced by a system of nanomachines. They can quickly heal his body from any grievous wound and also let him connect wirelessly to digital networks to upload and download data. Ray’s memories are still foggy after his resurrection, but he soon regains memories of his death and goes on a path of revenge on Martin Axe. However, everything Ray witnesses is not as it seems. Ray has been manipulated and tricked into becoming an avenging vigilante, and RST is not the benevolent organization it initially appeared to be.

Vin Diesel is undoubtedly a cinematic talent. However, much like Keanu Reeves, it takes the right role, the right script and the right director to bring that talent out and execute it the right way. Bloodshot is not that film to make Vin Diesel shine. Even Vin Diesel’s iconic gravelly voice and pure animal magnetism are not enough to elevate Bloodshot. Even The Pacifier was able to get more out of Diesel than this film.

For starters, Diesel’s role is not well served due to an incredibly weak, dull, trite and hackneyed script, co-written by Jeff Wadlow and Eric Heisserer. The script attempts a bit of self-awareness with the theme of memory manipulation, but with none of the satirical or humorous edge that made sci-fi classics directed by Paul Verhoeven, such as Total Recall or RoboCop, such thrilling films that can be viewed over time and again.

Once the curtain is pulled back, the film is just as ridiculous and goofy as it was beforehand. In fact, it gets even more foolish with the introduction of a comic relief sidekick, Wilfred Wigans (Morris). Morris gives a valiant effort, but his material is generally not funny, and the jokes are painfully forced. He’s the Rob Schneider’s Fergee to Sylvester Stallone’s Judge Dredd, rather than Ruby Rhod to Korben Dallas. Basically, the film addresses memory manipulation, deconstructing action and comic book movie tropes in the least interesting way possible. Perhaps the painfully awkward and unfunny comic relief should have been more prevalent before the curtain was pulled back. In fact, Bloodshot gets even schlockier after the major plot twist.

Filmmaker Dave Wilson, who boasts a background directing all those cool CG cinematic trailers from some of the hottest video game properties in the world, makes his feature directorial debut with Bloodshot. While the film is not completely devoid of some neat action beats and visual effects, the action is too busy and overly edited to truly enjoy. The camera constantly cuts away from the fight choreography and stunt work in a herky-jerky fashion. It becomes tiresome. In Wilson’s defense, even more prominent and experienced filmmakers are sometimes guilty of this penchant for bad editing.

There’s a certain awkwardness in the big dramatic scenes between the actors. Guy Pearce is a massively talented thespian. It’s not clear if he’s phoning in his performance, or if Wilson was clueless how to get the best performances and interactions out of such a talented cast. Pearce showed far more enthusiasm for his performance in the 2008 Adam Sandler film, Bedtime Stories. Diesel and costar Eiza González definitely appear to be trying, but their material is bad and the direction is weak. Even a talented actor such as Sam Heughan, who has done superlative work for years on Outlander, is relegated to being a one-note baddie here. They can only do so much with such laughable material and horrendously, clunky dialogue. There’s a dramatic scene where Ray has a huge revelation for his journey, but the staging and interaction in the scene is just off. It’s almost like the two actors in the scene aren’t even on the same set together. The natural sense of human connection and emotion that’s missing.

Bloodshot resembles something akin to what financial investors write a Hollywood action movie spec script of what they think a comic book action should look and sound like, and Jeff Wadlow and Eric Heisserer simply translated it into English. Yet the roughness of that Google Translate process still remains. The one clever concept the movie has going for it is simply played to make the movie even more ridiculous. Rather than creating a fresh, new comic-book film series, Bloodshot comes of as a cheap, Johnny-come-lately cash-in of one. Or worse, it’s more reminiscent of the cheap, schlocky comic book or superhero B-movies of the 1990s before films such as X-Men and Spider-Man radically shifted the script of what was possible with such material.

The final score: review Very Bad
The 411
Bloodshot is a poorly acted, badly written, annoyingly edited and awkwardly directed schlock-fest. Despite boasting an incredibly talented cast, Wilson has them interacting in painfully bad, awkwardly written out scenes. The writers set up an interesting twist, but do uninteresting things with it. Rather than playfully deconstructing or reconstructing what a comic book action-adventure should be, they only proceed to make the movie goofier. Even the frequent action scenes are hard to enjoy with the way they are overly and messily edited. Bloodshot is a gross misuse of Vin Diesel's obvious star qualities. Diesel's cool voice and unique charisma are not enough to save this film.