Genre: Superhero and Action Running Time: 1 hr. 49 min.
Release Date: March 13th, 2020 MPAA Rating: PG-13
Director: David S.F. Wilson Actors: Vin Diesel, Guy Pearce, Eiza Gonzalez, Sam Heughan, Lamorne Morris, Talulah Riley, Toby Kebbell, Siddharth Dhananjay, Alex Hernandez
fter a messy black ops mission in Kenya results in the death of soldier Ray Garrison (Vin Diesel), the deceased warrior is given a second chance at life – and revenge. Utilizing Dr. Emil Harting’s (Guy Pearce) advanced nanorobotic research at Rising Spirit Technologies, Ray is reanimated with microscopic robots that work ceaselessly to repair and enhance his body. Despite the doctor and colleague KT’s (Eiza Gonzalez) insistence on resisting brash decisions, Ray plunges headfirst into a turbulent plan of vengeance as the shattered pieces of his memory reveal the aggressor who stole his life.
The hero is quickly installed as a one-man army, engaging in suicidal daredevilry in the midst of a war zone. He’s an uncontested he-man who wastes the bad guys, returns home to a tropical paradise, drives a sporty car, and beds a shapely woman. And on the other side of the spectrum is the villain (Toby Kebbell), who steals a thing or two from “Reservoir Dogs,” tortures the protagonists, and murders innocent acquaintances. These introductions are strangely extreme for a PG-13 picture, resulting in nudity, action, and violence that must be edited down so observably that it’s almost comical just how much is hidden from viewers.
“I’m sorry to be the one to tell you this, but you got yourself killed.” “Bloodshot” further mires itself in routine as it borrows a little too liberally from the plots of “Universal Soldier” and “Robocop” to establish its premise, all while a Dr. No sort of mastermind organizes a gang of augmented combatants (like “The Dirty Dozen” mixed with “The Suicide Squad”), ready to engage in adventures unashamedly mirroring those found in “Soldier” and “Solo” and “The Terminator.” There’s really nothing original going on, particularly as Ray’s biomechanically rebuilt mind is able to instantaneously learn new skills by downloading manuals from the internet. It’s the same concept from “The Matrix” but with a slightly shinier coat of paint. And then there’s the repetition of his resurfacing memories, which resembles elements from “Source Code” and “Edge of Tomorrow” and, most problematically, “Memento,” due to Guy Pearce’s appearance in both films.
Even when the mid-movie twist occurs (readily spoiled by theatrical trailers), its shock value is dulled by its derivativeness. “You’ve already ripped off every movie cliche …” Emil scolds a programmer, putting into words some particularly disconcerting dialogue that the writers apparently didn’t realize were damagingly reflexive. Even the dependable sci-fi themes of skewed reality and fragmented identities – powerful tools of manipulation – are diluted with chaotic action sequences and unconvincing CG. Backfiring technology and straightforward revenge are similarly generic, yet there’s an uncanny vein of fun running through the macho action, capable of downplaying the utter nonsense of the finale. Perhaps the only unique – and therefore incredibly effective – detail is given to the chief henchman: he has a nasty habit of sticking chewed gum onto the undersides of workspaces, which means that when he gets his comeuppance at the climax, audiences will be cheering for an appropriately colossal ruination.
With reliable emotional staples, a few prudent swipes from genre titans, and a competent supporting cast, it’s easy to overlook much of “Bloodshot’s” shortcomings. What’s harder to ignore are the uninspired action sequences, brimming with mediocre computer graphics and edited with the grace of a jackhammer. “John Wick” this is not. While the punches might land with some potency due to the exaggerated physics, the audience is never treated to an extended scuffle with any notable amount of clarity. Villainous troops are snatched from view as if Batman were assisting from above, and the lengthy concluding showdown against overpowered assassins quickly escalates into a confusing special-effects soup. “Bloodshot” may competently borrow story elements from its imitable brethren, but it regrettably fails to match the visceral fight choreography that most modern action films have adopted (something essential for a slam-bang thriller with all brawn and no brains).
– The Massie Twins