Review By: Jonathan W. Hickman
At 52, Vin Diesel gets to show his face as a comic book superhero. If you didn’t know that “Bloodshot” is an adaptation of a Valiant comic, you’re probably not alone. As producers seek to jump on the Marvel and DC bandwagon, niche properties will inevitably find their way to the big screen.
But where “Deadpool” and “Guardians of Galaxy” proved to be surprising hits, there will always be misses. And “Bloodshot” fires wide of its target.
When soldier Ray Garrison (Diesel) is killed, he’s brought back to life by a corporation with the help of millions of nanobots. The tiny machines that comically are displayed like insects can regenerate his body almost instantly. And once he’s awake, Garrison controls their power.
Dr. Emil Harting (Guy Pearce) is the brilliant scientist responsible for the Frankenstein-like resurrection. He sports a mechanical arm through which he can control things in his laboratory by remote. And before Garrison’s successful transformation, Harting has developed a team of former soldiers, each given prosthetics that address battlefield injuries and enhance their abilities.
For example, one soldier named Katie (Eiza González) sports a new breathing apparatus installed in her neck that restores her ability to breathe. This device also makes her immune to any chemical attack. Another soldier, Jimmy (“Outlander’s” Sam Heughan), has new mechanical legs that make him run fast and become more agile. Still, another team member is gifted with the renewed power of sight by replacing his damaged eyes with a series of cameras that allow him to see everything.
The first problem with “Bloodshot” is the nanotechnology used to give Garrison new life. At no time are we ever given an explanation as to why a human host is required to house these miraculous machines? In the Marvel movies, we’ve seen Tony Stark use “nanites,” as they are called, to command his various Iron Man suits. We buy that Tony wears his armor because, if nothing else, his ego makes him want to be close to the action.
But in “Bloodshot,” Garrison is the suit. Every fiber of his body is a nanite. So, logically, if the nanites can form into a human, why can’t they act autonomously and do the bidding of Dr. Harting without the human factor at all? It’s a frustrating dilemma that plagues the film. I’m sure readers of the comic will set me straight on this problem, but the movie leaves newbies to the “Bloodshot” world grasping.
Another issue is that the villains in “Bloodshot” are undefined, inconsistent, and never a threat. Of course, perhaps, Garrison’s biggest adversary is himself. While that could have been interesting, it calls into question why a billion-dollar company would put its technology into such a fragile and uncontrollable personality. The best origin stories often involve heroes who acquire their superpowers by accident.
Diesel is in typically good form. His over-fifty physique is still quite impressive. And the sound design has enhanced his gravelly voice by making it a bit more prominent than any other actor in the film. If Diesel has a real superpower, it’s that voice, and it still works well.
Visual effects expert Dave Wilson makes his feature film debut with “Bloodshot.” Surprisingly, the effects, while adequate, are never special. And the action sequences feel dated like they came straight out of the 1990s or early 2000s. For instance, as the character Katie struts through her scenes, it’s hard not to think of something like 1998’s “Blade,” or its third sequel 2004’s “Blade: Trinity.” The stylized posturing is all too familiar and, frankly, tiresome.
“Bloodshot” is Vin Diesel’s chance to be a comic book hero, and sadly, it’s not what the aging movie star might have wanted.
A RottenTomatoes.com Tomatometer-approved critic, Jonathan W. Hickman is also an entertainment lawyer, college professor, novelist, and filmmaker. He’s a member of the Atlanta Film Critics Circle, The Southeastern Film Critics Association, and the Georgia Film Critics Association. For more information about Jonathan visit: FilmProductionLaw.com or DailyFIlmFix.com