Before the advent of cinematic universes and linking comic book movies, Bloodshot may well have been an acceptable and new addition to the now overly saturated sub-genre. However this Vin Diesel starring feature comes about 10 years too late as it feels like a pale imitation of a 2010s video game with very few consequences and an overly destructive mentality. Luckily both comic book movies and video games have long since moved past this in the decade that has just passed. Unfortunately someone forgot to tell the team behind Bloodshot as director David S. F. Wilson’s film never feels anything other than dated.
Following soldier Ray Garrison, who after a personal tragedy wakes up in a facility barely remembering the injuries that found him there in the first place. When memories of his trauma begin to surface he finds himself on a revenge mission made more complicated by his recent enhancements thanks to the help of Dr Harting (Guy Pearce). Waking up to a whole new body capable of healing itself on command making him almost unkillable, nothing seems to be in the way of his vengeance, except for perhaps his own fractured memories.
Bloodshot for all its revenge movie illusions and forgettable ‘level’ design, really plays as an underdeveloped origins story for a comic book character that would have been better served with long form storytelling. Sliced up into three distinct chapters that each feel underworked in terms of who Ray is, where he is or even what’s happening. This feels like a few television scripts reworked and butchered into a serviceable feature story and its unfortunate because Bloodshot feels worthy of a deeper dive than it receives. While the character here works and Diesel is suprisingly less stoic than his usual brooding persona here, the script by Jeff Wadlow and Eric Heisserer doesn’t seem interested in making Ray anything more than Bloodshot, the robotic killing machine.
Feeling like a rehash of every 80s and 90s action film from Robocop to Judge Dredd, Wilson retreads old ground while bumbling into cliches all over the place. Be it the jealous villain to the mad scientist who is evil because, well, he is. Even the discussion of the modern American military machine and how American soldiers have become disposable weapons feels like an antiquated plot point designed to curry favour and empathy in a film too lazy to put in the work.
It all feels disappointing because Wilson manages to make the most of his limited tale with some entertaining, well designed action, except for the often glaringly shoddy CGI. Buried beneath the grey hallways of poorly designed sets is a brighter film, with a standout chase scene halfway through feeling like it was ripped out of something else entirely. Supposedly a footchase through an English town, although judging by the sun, mediterranean looking buildings and narrow alleyways with actual colour in them, it certainly isn’t an England I live in, it is pure adrenaline inducing fun, one that uses speed and blurred visuals to raise tension. It highlights Wilson’s obvious talent hidden behind a production aiming for the middle.
The real drag to Bloodshot however comes from what makes Bloodshot special, his abilities. The fact that he cannot be killed rids the film of any kind of dramatic tension. Actually it dispels even the notion of tension. When the ending is a forgone conclusion, your main character in no real danger and still you try to convince audiences that any of what you watch ultimately matters, its going to be like pushing a boulder uphill. It feels like someone put Bloodshot on easy mode and I’m still waiting for even a little bit of the health bar to go down. It feels like playing something just to say you have, not because you want to.
Despite some easy watching action and a decent performance by Diesel, Bloodshot is just another failed comic book adaptation which doesn’t take the time to really understand its hero, instead stripping him and viewers of any real purpose beyond watching a film for the sake of it.