Director: David D.F. Wilson
Writers: Jeff Wadlow and Eric Heisserer
Starring: Vin Diesel, Eiza González, Guy Pearce
After he and his wife are brutally murdered, Ray Garrison (Diesel) is brought back to life with advanced technology that gives him superhuman strength and fast healing. After regaining his memories of what happened to him, Ray sets out to get revenge only to discover that there may be far more to his identity than he thought.
It is just as well Mark Sinclair (or Vin Diesel to most of us) has the never-ending Fast & Furious franchise to give him his (plentiful) pocket money, as despite the fact he is blatantly desperate to have a new franchise of his own, he keeps continuing to provide non-starters (and no I do not count Guardians of the Galaxy as he only says a few, very similar, lines). Babylon A.D was rubbish, Vin did get an admittedly decent run with Riddick – but the appalling third film meant those bright eyes finally faded, we all certainly wished that Xander Cage didn’t return, and I think it was fair to say that we all wished that the Witch Hunter that came before him was the last one!
Well, Bloodshot is admittedly better than The Last Witch Hunter, and is very much an old-school action film that has everything you would expect from a film starring Vin Diesel – and that is a good and a bad thing. Though it is of course based on a comic book, the film’s supposedly high-concept narrative does feel over twenty years out of date, and worse still lacks the sense of fun or nostalgia to completely get away with it, mainly due to a flat script and an increasingly daft story that descends into anti-climax.
Of course, it is fair to say that no one should watch Bloodshot expecting a profound examination of the human condition, but for me the main issue is the poor script means that an initially slightly interesting narrative premise increasingly relies on technology that doesn’t exist or characters that are just ‘extremely clever’ and can therefore do inexplicable things (and therefore can just suddenly do quite random things that are a highly convenient plot device) and things get just increasingly repetitive and boring, all culminating in a very predictable and highly anti-climactic finale.
Whenever the initial story and script of a film are dumb, it is often the case that all involved think the viewer must also be dumb, so things not only get increasingly stupid (I have gotten bored of using the word ‘dumb’) but also get increasingly over-explained to the supposedly dumb viewer. The constant over explanation and excessive exposition (mainly spouted out by a scenery chewing Guy Pearce – who has clearly turned up just to collect his cheque) means that every single plot development is clearly signposted, and so any minimal twist or surprise that may be left is completely dissipated. Meanwhile our protagonist will then not only ask questions to which most of us had pretty much guessed the answer to anyway, but also feels the need to constantly describe what is happening on the screen or have a hideously dull and painfully clichéd conversation with the main female character. There may be some kind of intention for the dialogue between the various characters to explore the idea of technology vs morality, but every line of the cliché-ridden script is very boring to hear. Likewise, every character within the film is a walking two-dimensional cliché from ‘the beginners guide of how to make a blockbuster’.
With any potential plot surprises taken away, all that leaves is the action sequences and our main protagonist; well, though there is no denying that Vin Diesel is quite a likeable screen presence, he just hasn’t quite got the screen presence or star power to make up for the film’s problems to make it any more than forgettable fluff. His protagonist has no interesting qualities, has very minimal backstory or character development and does not even get to reel off some cheesy one-liners! Indeed, one of the film’s most redeeming features is that its surprisingly serious tone actually makes it quite unintentionally funny. I believe Vin Diesel may well be going for troubled / conflicted in his many facial expressions, but instead just looks a combination of confused / bored / constipated. There is of course an attempt at a ‘comic-relief’ character, and the less said about him the better!
Now don’t get me wrong, Bloodshot is by no means the worst film ever made, and if you are after two hours where you can switch your brain off and just watch some half-decent action, then it just about serves that purpose. It just could have at least been more fun, instead of making the mistake of going for quite a serious tone, and as with the likes of Gemini Man just feels like it was made in the wrong decade. Even the action sequences get increasingly tiresome, especially when the other ‘super soldiers’ that our protagonist has to fight rely on increasingly strange and silly weaponry to ‘enhance’ themselves so they are a challenge for Vin. The whole film does descend into increasingly dull and repetitive anti-climax, and there are apparently plans for this to be part of some Marvel-style expended cinematic universe. If that is the case, then it has not exactly got off to the best of starts.
Despite having the initial potential of being at least an enjoyable action romp, the flat script and characters combined with an increasingly stupid and messy story cannot stop Bloodshot from missing the mark.
At time of writing Bloodshot is available to stream on various platforms, and is available on DVD and Blu-ray in the UK on 8 June 2020