Vin Diesel gears up once again to headline another action franchise playing a murdered soldier who is brought back to life as a superhuman killing machine in “Bloodshot,” a sporadically entertaining but overall brainless superhero film costarring Toby Kebbell, Guy Pearce and Eiza Gonzales.
In what is set to be the first in a series of new films based on characters from Valiant Comics, this mind-numbing piece of superhero entertainment lets logic fall by the wayside to instead focus on a series of incoherent action sequences that only grow more meaningless as the story plays out. A saturated and superficial entry in the increasingly stale comic book genre, the directorial debut of David S.F. Wilson lacks style as well as substance, and feels more like a cheap imitation of superior superhero films than something that stands on its own. Slopping together various genre tropes, the script by Jeff Wadlow and Eric Heisserer brims with nonsense, full of plot holes, cheesy one-liners, and exaggerated stakes that are as unconvincing as they are illogical. Even with the appealingly futuristic setting, the rapid-fire editing and the conspicuous camerawork, “Bloodshot” still manages to bore, and not even the jacked up presence of Vin Diesel can save this superhero film from being a letdown.
In the film, Vin Diesel plays an elite Marine named Ray Garrison who, along with his wife Gina (Talulah Riley), is taken hostage and murdered shortly after we meet him, cut down by a maniacal villain named Martin Axe (Toby Kebbell) who likes to torture his victims while blaring Talking Heads’ “Psycho Killer.” No sooner than he dies, Ray wakes up in the laboratory of RST Corporation, a shadowy defense contractor that specializes in nanotechnology. Led by Dr. Emil Harting (Guy Pearce), RST uses cutting-edge technology to mend injured soldiers and turn them into even more capable warriors, but Ray is the first yet that is a full-fledged, bio-enhanced killing machine.
Outfitted with nanites in his blood, Ray now possesses superhuman strength and the ability to heal instantly, but he also has no memory of his past life. But when the memories slowly start flooding back to him, Ray busts out of the lab and sets out on a mission of revenge, though that mission grows increasingly complicated as Dr. Harting has the ability to manipulate his memory. As Ray tries to take back control of his life and memories, he finds an unlikely ally in a coder at RST (Lamorne Morris), and in a fellow experimental soldier named KT (Eiza Gonzales) with whom he develops a romantic interest.
With his experience in the video game and effects world, first-time director David S.F. Wilson creates a comic book film that feels geared toward the gamer crowd, with an overreliance on CGI enhanced storytelling, and the director favors action over emotion at nearly every turn. What results is a fairly shallow and superficial endeavor that tries to mask its meaninglessness with big bangs and chaotic action sequences but rarely succeeds. With hollow characters, thin backstories, and vague character motivations, the audience is left with little to sustain their interest, just a bunch of overly long combat sequences in far-flung locales and confusing flashbacks that never come together in any enjoyable manner.
At this center of this misfire is Vin Diesel, who is reliably macho but emotionally empty as Ray Garrison, the murdered soldier turned bio-enhanced killing machine out to avenge his wife’s killer. It’s a performance that too often relies on Diesel’s tough guy persona and does little to add anything of substance to it. Supporting work here is similarly run-of-the-mill, with Guy Pearce going through the motions as the brilliant Dr. Harting, Toby Kebbell losing his damn mind as the psychotic villain Martin Axe, and Eiza Gonzales as the technologically enhanced love interest of Ray.
“Bloodshot” is a superhero film that never takes flight.
By Lucas Mirabella
Running Time: 109 minutes
Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence, some suggestive material and language.