Killed after his part in a hostage rescue, marine Ray Garrison (Diesel) is brought back to life by scientist Emil Harting (Pearce). Yet he is not only back from the dead: he’s super-enhanced and ready for revenge.
There should be something tons of fun about a mash up of Robocop and Universal Solider. Based on a 1992 Valiant comic book creation, Bloodshot delivers an origin story about a military man brought back from the dead to become a super-soldier, yet rarely finds the spark or any potential richness in the conceit. Directed by VFX supervisor Dave Wilson, it has moments of visual flare but feels hamstrung by dull writing and a leading man sleepwalking through the tech and the bullets. The project was originally set to go in 2012 with Jared Leto; that might have been more interesting.
Diesel is Ray Garrison (he’s a one man army, see), a marine who, after a hostage rescue mission in Mombassa, spends some R’n’R with his wife Gina (Tallulah Riley) on the Amalfi Coast (cue gold filters). Garrison is captured by evil Martin Axe (Toby Kebbell), who, in the film’s most memorable moment, does a Mr. Blonde style dance to Talking Heads’ ‘Psycho Killer’ before executing Gina and then shooting Garrison dead.
The action has learned nothing from John Wick.Garrison wakes up in the lab of Rising Spirit Technology, regenerated by Dr Emil Harting (Pearce, channeling _Iron Man 3'_s Aldritch Killian) through nanites injected into his blood (hence Bloodshot). The regeneration gives Garrison all sorts of superpowers — super strength displayed by punching concrete pillars, interfacing with technology at rapid speed, the ability to self-heal — but not his memory. Yet with the help of Harting and his assistant KT (Eiza González), Ray begins to piece his old life together and escapes the facility to go after Axe.It’s at this point that Jeff Wadlow and Eric Heisserer’s script delivers the film’s one decent idea, that niftily reframes and story but almost goes so far as to explain why it has been so poor up to this point. But the film never really capitatlises on the clever conceit, falling back on action, techno-talk and a throbbing bombastic score courtesy of Steve Jablonsky.
Save for a Point Break-y foot and bike chase, the action has learned nothing from John Wick or__ Chad Staheski’s 87 Eleven aesthetic (ie. letting action take place in long takes). Instead a punch up in a toilet, a showdown in a tunnel riddled with flour after a truck crash (it allows Diesel to walk moodily out of the dust), cinema’s only action sequence set in East Sussex and a fight atop a lift all feel like by-the-numbers set-pieces, full of slo-mo injections and senseless cutting. After being shot in the face, Garrison’s visage rebuilding itself is an impressive effect but little else lodges itself in the memory.
The film gets a spec of character colour from two techies played by Siddarth Dhananjay and Lamorne Morris but for the most part it’s a bland ensemble following Diesel’s lead. There’s something potentially moving in Garrison’s plight — a man who’s lost his past and can’t face his future: think Peter Weller in Robocop — but Diesel gets nowhere near it. It’s a somnolent, inexpressive performance (even by Diesel’s standards) that makes Stallone’s turn in Escape Plan 3 feel like Daniel Day-Lewis.
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