We’ve almost reached a point now (and perhaps some reached it long ago) where we’re going to start wondering if certain films that we want to see are worth risking our health just to experience them in theaters. My current frame of mind is that as long as they keep releasing them theatrically, I’ll do everything in my power to see them on the big screen, but then, I’m slightly insane. That being said, I’m not sure comic book adaptation Bloodshot (based on the Valiant Comics series) is the one you want to leave the house to check out, although the irony wasn’t lost on me that the film is about a man whose blood is altered so that it can repair his body almost instantaneously—the film feels more like wish fulfillment than fantasy these days.
Vin Diesel takes a rare step out of the Fast & Furious franchise to star as Ray Garrison, an elite soldier and bonafide hero who returns home to his wife only to be tracked down by terrorists seeking revenge and information and who end up killing his wife and Garrison. He wakes up in a lab run by Dr. Emil Harting (Guy Pearce, positively oozing a perfect balance of soothing and slithery), who runs a high-tech company given permission by the government to use nano-technology to revive previously dead soldiers. According to Harting, Garrison is the first to successfully come back alive. And with no ill effects from the treatment, it also makes him super strong and gives his body the ability to repair itself within seconds.
There are other modified soldiers at the lab, including ones with enhanced legs, sight, and even breathing abilities that make it possible for them to survive poison gas attacks. This particular ability belongs to KT (Eiza González of Baby Driver, Hobbs & Shaw), who shares one trait with Garrison, in that neither of them seems able to find clothes that aren’t three sizes too small for them.
Garrison’s memory is also mostly gone, but he does have flashes of the face of the man who killed his wife, and before he’s willing to go back out into the field as a type of super soldier, he wants to murder this particular killer. What he’s unaware of is that the good doctor is implanting a series of memories in Garrison’s brain, making him see a different person’s face as his wife’s killer, thus turning him into the perfect assassin who is not only trained as a killer but is further fueled by his motivation being so personal, even though his memories are false.
First-time feature director Dave Wilson (who comes out of the video game and special effects world) has taken what is actually a fairly interesting premise and made it feel like a fairly generic video game, with a hero that essentially can’t die on a series of missions that feel like levels more than anything emotionally driven. Not surprisingly, there are those who are not fully on board with what is being done to Garrison (including KT), and they find ways to assist him in ways that don’t give themselves away to Harting.
In the third act, the filmmakers thought it was a good idea to introduce a new character, tech nerd Wilfred Wigans (Lamorne Morris from “New Girl,” but with a bizarre British accent). Bloodshot also includes a scene involving Garrison following up on a hunch involving his dead wife that not only makes no sense in the context of the rest of the film but serves no purpose in the story as either a new motivation for our hero or by adding any emotional weight to his current predicament. The scene essentially goes nowhere, which of course makes me obsess over its very existence.
Personally, I find it difficult to resist Diesel’s loutish charms. At this point, he’s basically playing the same guy in every film (including wearing the same wardrobe), spouting off the same vaguely spiritual dialogue. As you may have gathered, family is still a very big deal to him in Bloodshot. But by the time Harting sends his other enhanced soldier after Garrison, I began to lose interest in the outcome. Even as the “Nanites” begin failing Garrison as he’s being torn apart by bullets and grenades, we know that no matter what damage is done, there is no one legally allowed to kill Vin Diesel in a movie at this point. Bloodshot is blisteringly familiar most of the time, leaving no action movie cliché from about 20 years ago untouched. Admittedly, one can still get some joy out of watching Diesel get brutalized like he does here, but that’s about as much fun as I could muster for this subpar action thud.
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