Director: David S.F. Wilson
Screenwriters: Eric Heisserer, Jeff Wadlow
Starring: Vin Diesel, Eiza González, Sam Heughan, Toby Kebbell, Talulah Riley, Guy Pearce, Lamorne Morris
If this is the beginning of streaming new Hollywood movies from home, we couldn’t have asked for a worse start. No one should have to pay $20 to watch Bloodshot – it’s the kind of film that’s only worth seeing if it’s one of the three allowed in your weekly theater subscription. It’s the sort of unremarkable film that ends up clogging suggestion lists on streaming services anyway, so it’s sort of fitting.
Vin Diesel stars as every action hero he’s ever played except this time he’s named Ray and he can’t die. He has nanobots that live in his body and heal his wounds, making him an android-ish Deadpool without any of the levity or charisma. He’s a soldier who loves his wife, he has super strength, and he mumbles and grunts his way through any sentence he says. Ray is searching for the man who killed him and his wife before he was reanimated, and he’ll stop at nothing to achieve that goal with his new superpowers.
The biggest issue with the movie was that the trailer gives away all of the narrative conflicts, so if you’ve been bombarded by it during previews, nothing will surprise you. On top of that, the Bloodshot seems to think its plot is a strength, and it’s not as clever as it thinks it is. Anyone coming into this wants to see schlock on a Hollywood budget – it’s a Vin Diesel movie after all – so just show us this superman’s fatal flaw and how he overcomes it while blasting through tons of bad guys! Unfortunately, the movie seems to think that flaw is being controlled by a corporation, and we’re subjected to an entire song and dance dedicated to a charade we know is a charade. Plus, his true kryptonite isn’t even the spiritual battle over bodily autonomy – it’s EMP. This guy gets shut down entirely without his nanobots, and instead of giving us a fun story that involves overcoming this crippling weakness, we get a poorly paced plot full of idiots who don’t even think to blast Diesel’s character to death with EMP that we already know works.
Editing in the action scenes is a big disappointment. The best scenes of the last decade like Kingsman’s church scene, Baby Driver’s opening car chase extraordinarily cut to “Bellbottoms” and John Wick 2’s museum fight scene keep at a brisk pace, and they never remain static compositionally. Bloodshot’s first major plot set piece takes place in a claustrophobic tunnel where groups of soldiers wander in the flare-lit confusion as Ray eliminates them, and it feels more at home in a horror movie. We know Ray is invulnerable, so while it’s cool when his face gets shot off and reforms, there is no tension for the audience. He can kill all of these people in a heartbeat because he has superhuman strength, can’t die, and they have no EMP. The choreography isn’t on the level of great action, and while slow motion is nice, it’s way overused and affects the pace of the scene. The best action scene in the movie isn’t even a minute long – KT, a woman with robot lungs or something, uses a night stick to beat up a bunch of guards. It’s gripping, visceral, and quick.
There are some bad accents from Guy Pearce and Lamorne Morris, lame dick jokes and attempts at self awareness that don’t improve the film. Understanding that your cliches or references are not original doesn’t make any of it better. The dancing villain makes one wonder if the filmmakers were aware of Reservoir Dogs, but it turns out that it’s supposed to be bad. The bland scenes where they explain the fake plot to Ray are purposefully derivative – why not just come up with fun stuff that doesn’t involve having to justify being boring?
The most notable moment is a scene towards the end in which Ray kind of resembles the comic character’s iconic look with grey skin and a red chest circle, but it unfortunately works only to illustrate how much of a shame it was that there wasn’t more of that look throughout the film. Gun and tech sounds were pretty satisfying overall, and the rejuvination effects were impressive, but it wasn’t enough to redeem a poor movie overall.
For those reading from the future, Bloodshot was released to video on demand during the worldwide pandemic of 2019/20, and viewers paid $20 to rent the movie for 48 hours. At that price, this movie is not worth it. You’d be better off watching the XXX movies to get a Vin Diesel fix – at least they’re entertaining. Bloodshot is a massive disappointment, and it’s a shame because there’s probably some nugget of a good movie hidden in there somewhere.