Bloodshot Review: Will This Spawn a New Cinematic Universe?
Bloodshot, only vaguely resembling the comic, is one of Jeff Wadlow's fragmented messes full of warmed-over ideas that don't quite congeal
Bloodshot, based on the Valiant comic, is finally here. I was ready to hate this movie based on who was involved and Sony’s desperate hope of culling the next big IP from an obscure comic property. I could see that for what it was every time it came up in the press before release.
Now that I’ve seen the film, I don’t loathe it the way I thought I would. It’s far from a perfect movie, don’t get me wrong, but it was at the very least entertaining when it wanted to be. Unfortunately for Sony in this day and age, it’s more difficult to ask or rely on an audience to turn its brains off for two hours and take a film for what it is. Even more so, when the world is dominated by Marvel, it’s tougher for other superheroes to stand out and Bloodshot doesn’t do enough to do so.
Ray Garrison (Vin Diesel) is a soldier captured and killed, along with his wife, by kookily cliche terrorist Martin Axe (Toby Kebbell as a character co-created by Jim Shooter). Resurrected like RoboCop by Dr. Emil Harting (Guy Pearce) and his team at Rising Spirit Tech (RST), Garrison wakes up with a vengeance, literally.
His blood is filled with nanites able to hack into anywhere with a thought, he tracks down and does in Axe but not everything is as it seems. Garrison is being fed lies by Harting and RST, who are following a script and haven’t been upfront about how much free will he really has, his true past, and how long he’s been under their control.
People get shot, stuff blows up, nanite-laden blood flies everywhere, and there are stylized music-video fight scenes and car chases. You know, all the usual Fast & Furious action.
This movie, another action franchise vehicle for the face of xXx and Dom Torretto, rides and dies on Vin Diesel and he is ideal for the role of Garrison even if the material is lacking, and not exactly faithful to its source. Eiza Gonzalez does all right with what she’s given too although her edge as a scene-stealer has more to do with the fact she is so fetching. I can’t say the same for the rest of the cast.
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Case in point, Sam Heughan (Outlander) who plays bionic-legged Jimmy Dalton. The character doesn’t seem to exist in the comics and could be a composite of a few different ones. In any case, Dalton is a dick to Garrison (think Gemma Chan in Captain Marvel – which is top to bottom the same movie) because he can be and he is the two-dimensional stock character who serves that purpose.
He has an attitude and chews gum which he sticks everywhere (how edgy). He also chews out Garrison for making the “messes” he has to clean up. Dalton drops this dime suddenly like a PMS-ing girlfriend and it falls flat because it isn’t earned.
Remember Who Wrote This
The story and script were written by Jeff Wadlow (the guy behind Fantasy Island) so it shouldn’t surprise you Bloodshot checks all the boxes without the proper connective tissue. Not enough time is invested in Dalton or the secondary characters to see their side or care about them.
Wadlow is more interested in laying out action set pieces and reminding us how cliche his scenarios are, in case you don’t catch on. Martin Axe dances awkwardly to Psycho Killer by The Talking Heads in false memories and Harting chastises his lead programmer for working every tired action-genre trope into the sim.
Rival programmer Wigans (Lamorne Morris), who just so happens to have all the information on RST and its tech right out the gate, monologues about having no friends and eats Chinese food when he works. A regular guy, Wigans jokes his “superpower” is coding. He’s also one of the few Garrison can trust by the end. You get the picture.
Adequately entertaining as it may be, Bloodshot is not all it can be. It feels like another one of Wadlow’s fragmented messes full of ideas that are warmed over and don’t quite come together. It over-relies on preposterous slow-motion action sequences that, while containing some breathtaking visuals, are padded with subpar CGI.
As I said, I hate to sour on Sony’s ambitions but I don’t see a Valiant cinematic universe coming out of this. They are short on the budget and should’ve had a better script from a different creative team. With Venom 2 and Morbius, they might have better luck. Or they could stay truer to the books and adapt X-O Manowar next time – as they should have. That I’d love to see.