Released: 12th March
Seen: 12th March
In November 1992, Valiant Comics introduced the world to the character of Bloodshot. A super-soldier gifted with the ability to regenerate damaged tissue due to the nanotechnology that has been injected into his veins, Bloodshot was a huge seller with praise coming out of every orifice, strong enough that it’s still in print today with new issues of the comic coming out within the last year. The character has been rebooted a few times, appeared in other media but had yet to be turned into a movie and since now is the golden age of the comic book movie this would be the best time to make a go of it and… well, they almost have something here. Almost.
Bloodshot begins in a very subtle manner, with soldier Ray Garrison (Vin Diesel) doing some soldier things in ‘insert random Middle East country here’ and gets involved in a shoot out with a man. He comes home to his partner Gina Garrison (Talulah Riley) and after some romantic ‘you didn’t die in the wars’ sex some bad people break into their home to kidnap Gina and Ray. Gina and Ray are then both put in peril of some kind, it’s shown explicitly in the trailer, and Ray wakes up in a mysterious laboratory where Dr. Emil Harting (Guy Pearce) tells Ray that his body is mostly tiny robots now and that his wife is very dead. Ray must now hunt down those who killed his wife… or so he thinks, DUN DUN DUUUUUN
The trailer for this film basically gives the main twist away and normally I wouldn’t bring that up except the big problem with this film is how desperate it is to tell you just what cards it’s holding. It doesn’t want to wait and make you invested in the characters so when they pull the rug out from under them it’d be shocking, that would mean they put thought into it. Nah, better have a character explicitly state just what is really going on for no reason whatsoever just because we wouldn’t want to do anything subtle or clever here. The second they pointedly spell out exactly what’s going on, which is literally just after the first big set piece, all momentum stops and it just ends up going through the motions without anything particularly interesting going on.
OK maybe not nothing interesting, there are some good set pieces in this film. The epic battle scene in a tunnel where a flour truck has crashed is really a visual treat, creating a good excuse for everything to be cloudy and red and just make some gorgeous visuals that accompany the violence. It’s a genuinely exciting scene that really had me going… and then, ya know, “Oh we can’t afford to be subtle so here’s the big twist that we could’ve held onto for 30 more minutes and made you think for a little bit”. While some visual set pieces work, most of them don’t because of how the film is edited. Quick cuts are fairly standard in an action film so I get it, but there’s a difference between quick cutting to give a film a sense of energy and frantic cutting because you don’t want to show anything.
It’s also weirdly reliant on slow-motion shots, especially during any scene where the main character is regenerating because they spent money on the animation software and damnit they’re going to use it. At first, the slow-motion scenes were cool, giving a peek as to how this technology worked and just how much damage the main character could withstand, but by the 8th slow motion shot it started to feel like they were just trying to pad the runtime. The only time the slow-motion stuff actually works is in that tunnel scene, the only moment I will remember fondly from this film. Seriously, if you do go see this film then the tunnel scene is basically the reason to go see it, nothing else is worth much.
It’s not worth much because none of the characters is interesting. We’re meant to care about the main character’s thirst for revenge on behalf of his wife but we barely know her, she gets exactly one scene where she’s basically there to be a sex object and then she’s pushed aside because we need the main character to want to avenge her. We probably get about 5 minutes in total with her throughout the film and I genuinely do not get why we’re meant to care about her. We’re told to care about her because she’s the main character’s wife and therefore means something to him. For Ray Garrison, the day that his wife died was the most important day of his life but for the audience, it was Tuesday.
There are some mildly interesting performances here. Guy Pearce as the Doctor who saved the main character is kind of interesting for a fair chunk of the film and I don’t know who told Lamorne Morris to eat as much scenery as he could but I thank them because he managed to make the rest of the film watchable, if not memorable. The weak link here is Vin Diesel who sits on one note the entire film, mumbles most of his lines and never really shows how this new tech improved him. The opening scene where he fights a big bad guy is just as impressive as the car scene, I never buy that his guy has improved in any way because he’s always shown as the pinnacle of strength. This is why movies that do the whole “Guy gets powers and is suddenly impressive” show the main character slightly weaker at the beginning. Look at the prime example of this exact character moment done properly in the first Captain America movie where they spent a decent chunk of the first film with scrawny Steve Rogers looking like a stiff wind would knock him over, so once they transform him into the buff Steve Rogers that we know and love it’s impressive and creates a visual shorthand to explain how impressive this transformation is. We get none of that here, Vin Diesel looks like Vin Diesel at the start and doesn’t grow or change in any other way except he maybe hits things a little harder but we do not know that because they never establish how hard he can actually hit.
The sad thing is that there is a really interesting idea here, the twist is actually kind of clever and could’ve led to a much more interesting movie than what we got. It’s a film that needed a few more goes at the scripting stage to really adjust the way the story plays out, trust the audience more to go with them on this journey. Instead, it tries to spoon feed you and treat you like an idiot, except it doesn’t quite know where to stick the spoon. There are some moments of potential that only make everything else worse by comparison. This could’ve been good, this should’ve been good. I would love for someone other than DC or Marvel to be making superhero comic movies now and this concept should work… but it just doesn’t.