by George Wolf
“Nobody wants to make any real decisions. They just want to feel like they have.”
For a movie that couldn’t have seen shutdown weekend coming, that’s one line in Bloodshot that feels pretty damn timely.
So whether or not there’s anyone in the theater to greet him, Vin Diesel brings the latest comic book hero to the big screen in a visual effects throwdown searching for any other resonant thread.
If, like me, you’re not familiar with one of the most popular characters in the Valiant comic universe, Ray Garrison (Diesel) is a battle-scarred soldier forced to watch his wife’s murder before he eats a bullet himself.
Waking up in lab of RST industries, Ray hears some hard truths from the brilliant Dr. Harding (Guy Pearce).
He died from that bullet, but he’s back now as the prototype “enhanced soldier” Project Bloodshot has been aiming for. Any injury Ray suffers will repair itself almost instantly, so he can soldier on for war and profit.
Does Ray have trouble accepting his reality? Not enough, which works in a way because the realities keep changing. While Ray only wants to track down his wife’s killer, the vast computer program that keeps Ray upright has surprises in store.
Bloodshot is director David S.F. Wilson’s debut feature after a ton of video game visual effects credits, which is probably why it looks like a giant video game drunk with budget allowances. And though that budget does buy some slick sequences, the film’s Matrix-type mainframe device leans too much on the buzzkill that is the computer keyboard.
Diesel’s guttural emoting is on auto-pilot, while Pearce gets to ham it up a bit and Baby Driver’s Elia Gonzales gets hung out to dry. As a fellow enhanced soldier, her superpowers seem limited to posing, pouting, and squeezing into the tightest wardrobe imaginable.
The screenplay, from the team of Jeff Wardlow and Eric Heisserer, does manage some needed self-aware humor about movie cliches, even as it’s serving them up alongside heavy doses of stilted, expository dialog.
By all means, support your local theater this weekend. And if you’re a fan of the Bloodshot comic, your decision to catch this big screen version will most likely be a good one.
Otherwise, there’s not really enough here to make you feel like it was.