If you’re interested in seeing Bloodshot, there’s a good chance you’re either a fan of Vin Diesel’s Fast and the Furious franchise or the Valiant Entertainment comic it’s based on. I’m actually a fan of both. I first discovered the Bloodshot comics back in the ’90s when I was a teenager and he was essentially a combination of two of my favorite Marvel Comics characters at that time; Wolverine and the Punisher. As for the Fast and the Furious? I watched all eight films and the Hobbes and Shaw spin-off last summer. I started off wondering what people saw in those movies and then ultimately falling in love with the ridiculous over the top action of the later films.
Like the comics, Bloodshot is about a murdered soldier resurrected and made unstoppable by the nano-machines in his blood that immediately repair any and all physical damage. It also has a number of familiar touchstones for Fast and the Furious fans – like Diesel in a tank top, exotic locations, ridiculous stunts, and even a tough as nails, Latina ally/co-star in Eiza González. Sadly, the things that mesh these elements together — a bland story, mediocre characters, and poorly directed action scenes — aren’t as strong.
Bloodshot is the story of Ray Garrison (Diesel) a murdered marine given a second chance at life by scientist, Dr Emil Harting (Guy Pierce), who resurrects Garrison by introducing nanites into his blood that make him virtually unkillable. He’s also created three other super soldiers; KT (González), a Navy rescue swimmer with cybernetic lungs; Jimmy Dalton (Sam Heughan), a Navy SEAL with robotic legs; and Tibbs (Alex Hernandez), a sniper with bionic senses.
After meeting his fellow soldiers, Ray begins to recover the memories of how he and his wife were murdered, and sets out on a quest for vengeance that brings him into the orbit of a renegade computer hacker, Wilfred Wiggins (Lamorne Morris). Of course, all is not what it seems, and as the story unfolds we’re treated to some action scenes with potential that ultimately weren’t realized, an underwhelming story, and an end action set piece that was actually really cool. Ultimately, it’s an occasionally tedious mash-up of Wolverine and Robocop.
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“..an occasionally tedious mash-up of Wolverine and Robocop.”
The action scenes play out like John Wick meets Jason Voorhees. Because of his hybrid abilities, Bloodshot should just mow through his opposition while shrugging off mortal wound after mortal wound. There is some of that, and the action scenes have interesting lighting, but many of them are ruined by the repeated cutaway slo-mo special effects shots of Garrison healing from his wounds. It’s gratuitous. I suspect director Dave Wilson’s previous background in video game special effects were leaned on heavilly for the style and pace of his first feature film.
Wilson does an excellent job staging a gravity-defying final battle between a fully powered up Garrison and one of the film’s villains that takes place in an outdoor elevator shaft. It’s kinetic, fun to watch, and feels ripped right from the comics that inspired the film.
Despite primarily mediocre characters, Bloodshot Diesel’s Garrison was stand out. Though most of the characters Diesel plays have similar qualities, Garrison is not a carbon copy of Dominic Toretto from the Fast and Furious films. Diesel’s trademark imposing physicality and gruff wisecracks fit the character, and if you’re a fan of his signature style, you’ll easily find yourself rooting for Garrison.
Lamorne Morris is also pretty charismatic and funny as Wilfred Wiggins. It’s Guy Pearce steals the show as Dr. Harting. It’s a stock, sort of mad scientist character, but Pearce gives him some great energy. He almost reminds me of Jeffrey Combs as Dr. Herbert West in the Re-Animator films.
Bloodshot is meant to be the first in a series of films and possibly even a shared universe series of movies starring Valiant characters. Ultimately, I wouldn’t mind seeing Diesel return to the character. He’s entertaining, the premise is interesting, and with the right script and action director they could do a rare sequel; one that’s superior to the original. Akin to Pitch Black and its Chronicles of Riddick.