Director: David S. F. Wilson
Cast: Vin Diesel, Eiza Gonzalez, Sam Heughan, Toby Kebbell, Guy Pearce
Runtime: 1 hr 50 mins
Rating: PG13 (Some Violence and Coarse Language)
Released By: Sony Pictures
Opening Day: 12 March 2020
Synopsis: Based on the bestselling comic book, Vin Diesel stars as Ray Garrison, a soldier recently killed in action and brought back to life as the superhero Bloodshot by the RST corporation. With an army of nanotechnology in his veins, he’s an unstoppable force –stronger than ever and able to heal instantly. But in controlling his body, the company has sway over his mind and memories, too. Now, Ray doesn’t know what’s real and what’s not – but he’s on a mission to find out.
Lest you think he is content to play Dominic Toretto for the rest of his filmmaking career, Vin Diesel has chosen to headline this adaptation of the Valiant Comics character before the release of the next instalment of the ‘Fast and Furious’ franchise. Here, Diesel plays special ops soldier Ray Garrison, who is ambushed along with his wife after a violent hostage extraction in Kenya, shot dead, and brought back to life as a technologically enhanced superhuman.
In his feature film debut, video game auteur David S.F. Wilson keeps the pace lively and brisk, compressing all that backstory into a montage of scenes before the opening credits. We begin in earnest with Ray waking up on a hospital gurney inside a gleaming skyscraper, his body having being donated by the military to the dubiously named Rising Spirit Technologies founded by ethically questionable scientist Dr Emil Harting (Guy Pearce). Sporting a bionic arm, Dr Harting informs Ray that he has been injected with microscopic ‘nanites’ into his bloodstream, giving him the power to heal almost instantaneously from grievous injury.
Ray is haunted by the memory of one Martin Axe (Toby Kebbell), who had tied him to a chair in a meat locker, done a Tarantino shuffle, and then made him watch a cattle-bolt being shot through the head of his wife (Talulah Riley). It isn’t long before Ray breaks out of the facility, tracks Martin down to Budapest, and traps him in a vehicular tunnel riddled with flour before exacting holy vengeance upon him. Predictably, Ray is shut down after he returns from his personal mission or is it…
There is but one plot twist in an otherwise straightforward narrative, which finds Ray struggling to reclaim his existence in more ways than one. That quest is complicated by the other RST bio-engineered soldiers, including the surly Dalton (Sam Heugan) with limbs of metal, the nasty Tibbs (Alex Hernandez) with ocular lenses for eyes, and the coolly ambiguous KT (Eliza Gonzelez) whom Dr Harting controls through an air-vent in her clavicle. No prizes for guessing who Ray has a soft spot for.
Contrary to what you may be expecting, ‘Bloodshot’ doesn’t serve up one action sequence after another; in fact, those looking for Diesel to go ballistic will probably be shifting in their seats during the second act, as his character Ray tries to figure out how much of a pawn he already is and how much control he has left over his own body. That discovery sees Diesel develop some suitably amiable chemistry with Lamorne Morris, who plays the tech genius/ coder Wilfred Wigans that understands the technology which Ray has no clue over.
It does culminate satisfyingly with a fast and furious (pun intended) duel within the glassed-in elevator shaft on the exterior of a skyscraper, with Ray’s mano-a-mano against his fellow RST upgraded soldiers giving us the opportunity to see Diesel fully unleash his ferocity. Other than that climactic sequence, there is nothing to shout about a foot-and-bike chase in London, or an ambush gone awry in a sprawling mansion in East Sussex. Aside from the fact that they are utterly by-the-numbers, Wilson is also guilty of shooting the action too closely and cutting too quickly.
As sceptical as some may be, Diesel is the one clear and consistent element which holds the movie together from start to finish. You may scoff at his meat-headedness, but Diesel’s earnestness and good-naturedness ultimately earns sympathy for Ray’s circumstances. Oh yes, just like the ‘Fast and Furious’ movies, Diesel brings his signature blend of morality and machismo to the role, and we would say perfectly cast in a movie that would be a whole lot worse off without him.
In truth, there is nothing that is particularly memorable about ‘Bloodshot’, except maybe a cool slo-mo shot of Diesel’s visage reassembling itself after being shot in the face. But as a self-declared Diesel fan, we’re glad the action star (who is now in his early 50s) is not yet keen to settle for just playing Toretto – or for that matter, voice Groot – over and over again. It’s a decent Diesel-powered action vehicle for what it’s worth, and those looking for a popcorn-friendly blend of action and science-fiction will find you can do a lot worse than this derivative but fun diversion.
(It's a Diesel-powered superhero movie, and if you don't mind its derivativeness, you'll find a perfectly decent action vehicle)
Review by Gabriel Chong