The first big screen adaptation of the Valiant comics was made on a relatively small $45 million budget, which isn’t even enough to pay for the catering on any “Fast and Furious” films. Given the films rather small budget, the film itself and especially the visual effects are truly impressive. The film is at it’s best, within the first hour and it’s climax. First time director David Wilson makes some really interesting visual choices. Such as a big fight sequence inspired by Hong Kong action films and the very satisfying large scale action sequence at the films climax. The restrictions of the films PG-13 rating is the one thing that holds the film down. While star Vin Diesel may live his life a quarter mile at a time, but “Bloodshot” is the perfect vehicle for him and it deserves to have a life of it’s own and be his new franchise. As brawny and 80’s as it feels, it contains more than enough to avoid being one of those wrecks that his Fast films contain so much of.
Vin Diesel has been acting for a good 27 years, while almost half of his career consisted of building a successful franchise run for himself with nine “Fast And Furious” films. Known to be a huge sci-fi junkie, Diesel mixes his love of the genre with an old school action approach to his newest franchise attempt in the adaptation of the Valiant Comics character “Bloodshot”.
Diesel has often tried to capitalize on the idea of a franchise outside of the Fast films, with “Riddick” and “XxX”. He tried to attempt another franchise starter in 2015 with his underrated and one of his best films “The Last Witch Hunter” (although Diesel has recently said a sequel is in the works). “Bloodshot” is his first superhero role and much like “The Last Witch Hunter”, it has every right to earn it’s shot to continue in future installments.
“Bloodshot” was created for Valiant Comics by Kevin VanHook, Don Perlin, and Bob Layton. Brought to the screen by Neal Mortiz the producer of “Fast and Furious”, Matthew Vaughn (Director of “Kingsmen” and “X-Men: First Class”) and it’s star Vin Diesel. Made on a relatively small $45 million budget, which isn’t even enough to pay for the catering on any “Fast and Furious” films. Given the films rather small budget, the film itself and especially the visual effects are truly impressive.
While I have no familiarity with the comic book, the central premise seems to be a been there and done that approach. In a recycled plot, where naturally tragedy will strike, pushing Diesel into a hell-bent on vengeance mode. Vin Diesel is an unstoppable force that is being used by the powers that be, that created him. It’s a story that is more than a little reminiscent of “Robocop”. But at least Diesel doesn’t have to worry about flexing his acting muscles by playing a mix of man and machine. Rather, the machine part is limited to the nanobots that make up his blood.
Diesel stars as former soldier Ray Garrison whose career in the military ended in him being killed in the line of duty. Groundbreaking nanotech technology created by a genius engineer, Dr. Emil Harting (Guy Pearce “LA Confidental”, “Memento”) who resurrects him to fight another day. While he has been equipped with super strength and healing powers, his memories of his past life are gone.
This is where the film is at it’s best, within the first hour when the premise is being set-up (and it’s climax). Interesting choices are made, including a sequence where Ray’s wife is being swiftly fridged by Toby Kebbell’s villain. It’s clear where this is headed, because behind every great man is a loved ones death that motivates him. Director David S.F. Wilson makes novel use of the Talking Heads track “Psycho Killer” in the sequence that sets the plot off.
Director David Wilson comes from the world of visual FX, as co-founder of Blur Studios along with Tim Miller, who directed “Deadpool” and last year’s “Terminator: Dark Fate”. His background in visual effects is essential to what makes “Bloodshot” work so well, because so much attention is paid to the visuals that play a key role in every action scene, in particular when showing Ray’s powers.
Wilson makes some really interesting visual choices. Such as a big fight sequence in an underground tunnel filled with baking flour that gives it a style from a Hong Kong action flick. Or the films most impressive action sequence, the climactic battle that sees Bloodshot battling his cybernetic bros while falling down an elevator shaft is rendered in impressively detailed CGI mixed with CGI of “The Matrix” era. Although many of the action scenes can be too frantic with quick cutting, while the sound mix sounds as if the audio was turned down on the dialogue to emphasize the chaos around.
The fight scenes have a high body count with a symphony of gunfire, but very little bloodshed because it’s PG-13 and that rating won’t allow for that. These restrictions are the reason the editing style of the action scenes are quick and frantic. While the masking of the impacts in gunshots and crushed skulls are over shadowed by expertly placed lightning and smoke effects.
“Bloodshot” delivers an aggressive pace that rolls over most plot-holes, except an unexplained side effect that occasionally turns his skin chalky white and turns his chest red, making him look more like his comic book persona.
This is a Vin Diesel action picture so you know what to expect. If you haven’t accepted him as an actor yet, then at this point you probably never will. He strides through the role of the sneering and growling super soldier as you’d expect. His performance is 90% all flex, although I’ll give him points for trying his hand at showing emotion during his scene where he loses his wife. It’s a very on-brand Vin Diesel movie.
The absolutely stunning Eiza González (“Baby Driver”) as another one of the modified soldiers is passable in her role, although we never really learn much about her other than the fact that she was a diver and has been augmented by getting the ability to breathe underwater (which amazingly, unlike most movies it never factors into any of the action scenes).
From the Zooey Deschanel series “New Girl” Lamorne Morris, who sports an English accent, is the comic relief that is introduced over an hour into the film and brings a sense of fun to the film but unfortunately feels a bit tacked on. Guy Pearce is the designer of the technology and the films big bad, he too is fine but I could only feel an actor like Danny Huston, Christoph Waltz or Ben Mendelssohn would have been a better fit here.
The screenplay by Jeff Wadlow (“Fantasy Island”, “Kick Ass 2”) and Eric Heisserer (“Hours”, “Lights Out”, “Arrival”) sets up “Bloodshot” as an homage to 80’s and 90’s action films, before changing gears for something a bit more modern. Director Wilson brings the heat with solid visual effects and a relentless pace to “Bloodshot”, an unapologetically popcorn movie of the switch off your brain and kick back kind.
It’s unfortunate that the whole Coronavirus is affecting the film industry so much, as “Bloodshot” is the last film to be released until “Black Widow” in a month and a half. I hope the studio doesn’t put the bad box office blame on the film causing the possibility of “Bloodshot” not getting a sequel. I left wanting to see the next adventure, the next film and I’m hoping much like “The Last Witch Hunter” that we get one.
Vin Diesel may live his life a quarter mile at a time, but “Bloodshot” is the perfect vehicle for him and it deserves to have a life of it’s own and be his new franchise. As brawny and 80’s as it feels, it contains more than enough to avoid being one of those wrecks that his Fast films contain so much of.
GRADE: ★★★1/2☆☆ (3 & 1/2 out of 5)