What does Vin Diesel do between Fast & Furious movies? Anything he wants it seems. From hunting witches, being the best secret agent and extreme sports star in the world, an alien bounty hunter or something (never seen any Riddick movie), it seems that Vin is more and more wanting to just take charge of whatever he’s in until it’s nothing but another Vin Diesel movie. Sure, other actors like Tom Cruise and Dwayne Johnson can have this effect, but those actors have, you know, charisma and range. The problem with all of Vin’s half-baked hopeful franchise-starters, including Bloodshot, is in having Vin Diesel in the first place.
Vin Diesel is a popular actor, still currently having the most liked Facebook page ever, and is always committed to the fans that made him a recognisable star, but Bloodshot tests those limits of Diesel’s watchability. The movie is based off the Valiant Comics character, of which I have never read or known anything about, but damn did I love the premise to this story.
Diesel is playing Ray Garrison, a US Marine who is captured, tortured and has his wife murdered in front of his eyes before being shot and blacking out. Waking up in a high-tech facility with no memories and his entire body filled with nanites that make him super-strong and invincible through rapid healing, Ray is pointed in the direction of the man who killed his wife (Toby Kebbell) and takes his revenge quickly and efficiently. Seems pretty basic and bland at first.
However, it turns out that Ray is being manipulated by those that gave him the superpower technology. Dr. Harting (Guy Pearce) and his team of engineers and other enhanced war veterans are brainwashing Ray, planting a simulation of his wife’s murder in his head and changing the face of the murderer to whoever they want Ray to kill next.
A truly wonderful starting point for any movie, and Bloodshot has no idea where to go with it. We’re not even treated to some fun in seeing Ray kill person after person mindlessly and slowly remembering piece by piece of his real life. Instead he kills one guy, then wakes up again, tries to kill another guy and only THEN does the real plot of “man on the run against the system” kick in which is profoundly boring.
Diesel can be like an unformed lump of clay which needs an artist to sculpt him into something definitive and genuine, but first-time director David S. F. Wilson is not an artist. Bloodshot is not a movie made by vision or a care for real storytelling, merely just a cynical commercial endeavour by Sony Pictures. They were searching for new IP to exploit, found a comic character with a moderate fanbase, stripped all recognisable elements from it, grabbed a star desperate for another solo project between Fast & Furious’, threw in wildly different screenwriters Jeff Wadlow (Truth or Dare, Fantasy Island) and Eric Heisserer (Arrival, Bird Box), and used Wilson’s credits as director of video game cinematic trailers (an art in of itself) to just tell him what to do on this, resulting in a nothing movie for no-one.
Bloodshot moves efficiently, looks decent and sounds fine, but is just consistently uninspired and bland. A genuinely promising premise is let down by cliché characterisations, cringeworthy grabs at humour or drama, and woefully uneven effects. The protagonist’s rapid healing powers look rather cool, but it seems as if all the effort was put there and no other eyes were on the truly awful climax made of jarring CG face replacements and balloon-people physics.
Bloodshot feels like both a slick-looking Hollywood production and cheap fan-made nonsense, jarring between both executions until you’re left feeling filled with ennui. It could be dumb fun to those who just don’t want to care about a Vin Diesel superhero movie, and I respect that perspective. Bloodshot could be the mindless escape one needs in these dark times, but perhaps don’t bother going OUT to see it. Wait for it in your safe quarantine bubbles.
Directed by: Dave Wilson
Screenplay by: Jeff Wadlow and Eric Heisserer
Starring: Vin Diesel, Guy Pearce, Toby Kebbell