Vin Diesel plays a soldier who was killed and resurrected using nanite technology. Photo from Columbia Pictures
Culture Movies

The 3-Minute Review: ‘Bloodshot’ will give you some pleasurably nerdy thrill

Something you can only expect from a patently comic-book concept.
Andrew Paredes | Mar 13 2020

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. 

Guy Pearce is Dr. Emil Harting, a biotech mogul who is building a team of machine-enhanced super soldiers.

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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 Outlander’s Sam Heughan as a sneering handler with Oscar Pistorius-like leg prosthetics and Hobbs and Shaw’s Eiza Gonzalez as an ex-Special Forces soldier with ambiguous loyalties—to rein him in. But is Garrison’s memory of events what really happened?

Eiza González plays a former special forces soldier with dubious loyalties.

From that summary alone, you can detect traces of The MatrixRobocopThe 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.

Sam Heughan is Jimmy Dalton, a sneering member of Dr. Harting's team of super soldiers.

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.

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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