Directed by David S.F. Wilson
Starring Vin Diesel, Eiza Gonzalez, Sam Heughan
Bloodshot has that pleasurably nerdy frisson you can only get from an unapologetic comic-book idea: a premise so outlandish it could only have been bottle-fed from the most influential sci-fi and action movie franchises.
Soldier Ray Garrison (Vin Diesel) comes home from a deployment in Kenya to his dutifully cardboard wife Gina (Talulah Riley), only to have the couple kidnapped by a delightfully bonkers villain named Martin Axe (Kong: Skull Island’s Toby Kebbell) and summarily executed. But Garrison is resurrected by a biotech mogul named Dr. Harting (Guy Pearce) who injects nanites into his bloodstream, giving him superhuman strength and the ability to reconstruct himself after the most catastrophic of injuries—Ray can now continue sowing mayhem even as his half-blasted face reassembles itself.
More recent reviews:
- The 3-Minute Review: ‘Onward’ is top-tier family entertainment, but mid-level Pixar
- Review: ‘Birds of Prey’ is deliciously badass, a glittery middle finger to gender double standards
- Review: ‘1917’ says war is stupid, but the film ends up glorifying it anyway—and how
- Want more Harley Quinn after watching ‘Birds of Prey’? The animated series is binge-worthy
Awakened with barely a memory of who he is, Ray is soon animated by a desire to avenge his murdered wife, and it may be up to Dr. Harting and his band of machine-enhanced supersoldiers—including Outlan
From that summary alone, you can detect traces of The Matrix, Robocop, The Wolverine and The Terminator in Bloodshot’s DNA. Based on the alt-comic of the same name from the graphic novel imprint Valiant, the movie gleefully throws every pop culture reference that any bonafide fanboy can detect into its trash compactor aesthetic: Witness Toby Kebbell make his villain entrance shuffling to Talking Heads’ “Psycho Killer” in the best tradition of Reservoir Dogs. And when Bloodshot summons the energy to execute an original idea, it’s to come up with something as patently silly as staging a blood bath using the photogenic qualities of…flour.
But that’s fine: Like the John Wick movies, Bloodshot gets its charge from knowing it’s silly and winking at it. If only it didn’t feel the compunction to wink so loudly: Every shotgun blast roars, every punch rattles, and every bad visual effect is so blaringly obvious—watch for a pitifully rendered fight set in an outdoor elevator shaft—Bloodshot should come with a high-decibel warning. Heck, even every keyboard tap the obligatory computer geeks played by Siddharth Dananjay and New Girl’s Lamorne Morris is sound-mixed with teeth-rattling urgency.
Speaking of, these stock comic-relief characters have to bear the brunt of keeping you engaged with the human element of the story that isn’t merged with machinery. Everyone else is so darn committed to being the most serious they can be. Pearce brings the subtlety expected of him, which makes the limited range of Diesel—his perpetual scowl/smirk reminding you of Adam Sandler crossed with a professional bodybuilder—even more obvious. Diesel now approaches every role as a riff on Dominic Toretto. But given Bloodshot’s aesthetic of grabbing every pop cultural marker and devouring it, I guess a Fast and Furious reference fits right in.
Photographs from Columbia Pictures