MAAC Review: BLOODSHOT

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Vin Diesel leaves ‘Dominic Torreto’ behind for a while, returning to cinema screens with the comic book adaptation Bloodshot. Based on the Valiant comic created by Kevin VanHook, Don Perlin and Bob Layton, Bloodshot features Diesel as Ray Garrison, a murdered Marine who is brought back from the dead by the mysterious doctor Emil Harting (Guy Pearce).

The first of his kind, Garrison is made almost invulnerable due to nanotechnology coursing through his body. Garrison doesn’t have any recollection of his past life, but slowly starts to piece things together with the help of K.T. (Eiza Gonzalez), finally remembering his and his wife’s murder at the hands of crazed terrorist Martin Axe (Toby Kebbell). It isn’t long until Garrison escapes the confines of Harting’s facility and goes on the hunt for Axe. As Garrison forges on in his quest for revenge he begins to realise there may be a larger conspiracy at play.

Other than the Fast & the Furious Franchise, Vin Diesel doesn’t exactly have the greatest success when it comes to blockbusters. The likes of The Last Witch Hunter (2013) and XXX: The Return of Xander Cage (2017) weren’t exactly met with great critical acclaim. Even his return as one of his most iconic roles in Riddick (2013) wasn’t met with the success he had clearly hoped for.

Sadly it seems that Bloodshot is likely to share the same fate. While it proves to be an entertaining enough actioner, it is decidedly small scale in comparison with most recent comic based blockbusters and pales in comparison alongside any of Diesel’s Fast & The Furious movies.

Making his feature length directorial debut, David S. F. Wilson kicks things off with a bang, with a well done shootout come hostage rescue in Mombasa, Kenya. Although relatively short it introduces the audience to Diesel’s character and his set of skills.

The opening scenes were reminiscent of 90’s era Jerry Bruckheimer productions, with its orange tinted visuals and use of slo-mo. This isn’t a complaint, as visually these scenes looked terrific. As a matter of fact, Wilson manages to fit in a number of visually striking scenes throughout, the best of these being Diesel’s assault on Kebbel’s convoy. 

Bathed in red light, Diesel takes on a team of heavily armed bodyguards who can hardly see him due to flour that is flying through the air from a crashed truck. The mixture of colours and the surprisingly brutal violence (at least for a PG-13) really set this action scene out from the rest.

Considering Wilson’s background in VFX, I did expect the CGI to be of a higher quality. For the most part it is well done, with the many wounds Diesel sustains and the likes of Sam Hueghan’s mechanical legs all being well realized. It is only during the finale that the quality seems to drop, with a fight between Diesel and Hueghan in a lift shaft being the main offender. Still, this is to be expected as Bloodshot is considerably lower budget than many other comic book movies, coming in at $45 million. This may seem a lot of money but is a drop in the ocean when compared to something like Avengers: Endgame‘s (2019) budget of around $350 million.

While Wilson does well with the visuals, Bloodshot is quite lacking in terms of characters and is mostly devoid of humour. Additionally, while the action scenes are well done, there aren’t enough of them to make this feel like the epic actioner it should be. I was taken by surprise when I realized that we were already heading towards the finale and there had only really been three main action scenes. I wonder if this would have changed if original directors David Leitch and Chad Stahelski were at the helm.

Still, there is no point thinking on what ifs. Wilson does a decent job for his first feature, with him and his cast overcoming the drawbacks inherent in the script.

Vin Diesel is pretty much Vin Diesel. I say this as a compliment, as he is exactly the type of persona a film like Bloodshot needs. His hulking physique and gravelly voice make him a perfect fit for Garrison. It is strange to think that at one point Jared Leto was in talks for the part. If you have ever seen the character in comic book form you would know this would have been a serious piece of mis-casting.

The remainder of the cast don’t get as much of a chance to shine but do what they can in their roles. Eiza Gonzalez manages to stand out, not only because she’s drop dead gorgeous but because K.T. is the only character other than Garrison that goes through something resembling a character arc, with her at first being complicit before becoming morally compromised.

Guy Pearce mainly coasts along as Harting, with it not being any surprise what his true motives are. Especially when all the trailers have made it clear he is the villain. His character sports a metal arm which we are shown early on as to be quite powerful. I half expected that this would play a part come the finale where he would face off with Diesel. Unfortunately it doesn’t, with Pearce never really getting involved in the action. Although many would say this role is beneath an actor of Pearce’s calibre, it is certainly an improvement on his last release, the woeful Disturbing the Peace (2019).

The main physical threat to Diesel comes in the form of Sam Heughan’s Dalton. Heughan seems to be having fun playing a role that is the polar opposite of the heroic Jamie Fraser from Outlander (2014), but the character of Dalton isn’t anything we haven’t seen before.

There is also the addition of Lamorne Morris as tech genius Wigans, who was clearly meant to be comic relief but mostly comes off as annoying. He is the typical stereotypical character most Hollywood productions use whenever there needs to be a tech guy. For some inexplicable reason they have also saddled him with an unnecessary english accent.

Toby Kebbel does make an impression as Axe, with him being given quite the memorable introduction. Sadly his role is essentially an extended cameo, with his character mainly being a red herring.

I wasn’t surprised about the drawbacks in the script when I saw that it was the work of Jeff Wadlow. For the most part Wadlow’s work has been poorly realized, with his last attempt at adapting a comic book being Kick Ass 2 (2013) which was a major disappointment. His co-writer, Eric Heisserer’s track record is slightly better, writing the screenplays for Arrival (2016) and Bird Box (2018). Perhaps it is the inclusion of Heisserer that raises this above the majority of Wadlow’s other work.

Bloodshot is definitely a film that is better suited to home viewing. A streaming service like Netflix would be the perfect market for a film like this, where expectations are suitably lowered. Bloodshot may not be essential viewing but will still please most viewers looking for a quick, brainless action fix.

Lastly, this may be the only chance you get to see Diesel this year, with the upcoming F9: The Fast Saga (2021) being pushed back to April 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Plot: 3/5 
Acting: 3/5 
Action: 3/5 
Overall: 3/5

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