Based on the Valiant Comics character of the same name, Bloodshot is a superhero action film about a deceased Marine brought back to life by a technologically advanced company who wish to use his newly granted superpowers for their own nefarious purposes. With a great premise such as this I was excited to see how this movie would stack against similar fare like 1992’s Universal Soldier starring Jean-Claude Van Damme and Dolph Lundgren where they too play resurrected supersoldiers – though not to the extent of Bloodshot.
While the visual effects and action sequences are really well done, the focus on the visual experience over good storytelling and interesting characters make Bloodshot a disappointing experience. Universal Soldier remains the cybnernetic supersolder champ and better movie.
After successfully carrying out a rescue mission in Mombasa, U.S. Marine Ray Garrison (Vin Diesel) and his wife Gina (Talulah Riley) are killed by a team of mercenaries associated with the mission’s villains. Garrison wakes up at a facility run by a highly advanced technology company called Rising Spirit Tech who specialize in developing cybernetic enhancements and solutions for disabled soldiers.
Garrison learns from Dr. Emil Harting (Guy Pearce), the firm’s CEO, that he’s the first successful candidate they have resurrected from the dead using special nanite technology. In addition to the technology being able to bring him back to life, it provides him superhuman abilities such as increased strength, incredible healing/regeneration as well as the ability to mentally tap into computer systems and access massive amounts of digital information across the globe. Though unknown to him at first, it does come with a vulnerability – because Garrison is basically a super advanced cyborg, he can be turned off or programmed like any other computerized machine by those who built him.
Not long after Garrison is resurrected and after he meets a team of fellow cyborgs at Rising Spirit Tech, he starts to get “flashbacks” to his life before death. He “remembers” that his wife was murdered and armed with his new capabilities, and soon embarks on a mission of revenge to avenge her. But once the deed is done, the truth of his “reality” is revealed but it’s too late – he’s already a slave to the institution that provided him another shot at life. Dr. Emil Harting will continue to keep using Garrison as his instrument of death unless Garrison and his new-found allies can find a way to break the cycle.
Vin Diesel gives the usual brooding, masucline Vin Diesel experience you’d expect from him in yet another sci-fi action role. He’s well within his comfort zone playing a cybernetically resurrected Marine brought back to life and becomes an enhanced killing supersoldier. Unfortunately, the nature of his character – essentially being a puppet – doesn’t leave much room for a true hero story arc or challenges to overcome without major assistance from other characters. This makes him quite uninteresting, despite his impressive, albeit augmented, physical capabilities.
Garrison can’t do much to challenge the puppet masters because he’s designed like a computer that can be turned off at the press of a button. When he’s allowed to be in control during his revenge missions where he is in his physical element, he’s so physically powerful that there really isn’t any adversary capable of defeating him. While it makes for great visual action sequences, it also makes him a stale character by the end of the film. All the real challenges are at the hands of his allies who risk their lives in order to help break his digital chains of bondage.
Guy Pearce gives a safe performance as Rising Spirit Tech CEO, Dr. Emil Harting. Harting is the puppet master pulling the strings and unfortunately a lot of this revolves around him staring at computer screens and telling his subordinates what to do. It’s not a standout performance and to be honest he’s not an exciting villain. If he’s so smart with all the military-grade assets at his disposal it probably would’ve been easier to get a sniper or plant a bomb to take out his rivals instead of creating elaborate and complicated memories to motivate his latest creation to go on a revenge mission. It’s not a great role for Pearce, which is a pity because I’m a big fan of his.
Bloodshot is the first feature film Dave Wilson has directed, however he comes from a strong visual effects background of directing cinematic trailers for very prominent video games such as Mass Effect 2, The Elder Scrolls Online and numerous Star Wars titles. This prior experience has translated well given the outstanding visual effects this movie has. However it has come at a cost – the pacing and story aren’t anything special. With two-dimension characters and a focus on the visual experience, Wilson fails to create any decent emotional connection to the characters. I simply didn’t care about any of them and by the film’s last act I found myself fidgety and wishing for it to end as I became desensitized to the overload of CGI effects.
Bloodshot is a superhero action movie that simply doesn’t stack up to similar movies in the same genre. It lacks the human element that would create characters we would care about and it simply focuses more on the visual spectacle instead of creating memorable characters. With a dumb plot and a story that isn’t up to par given the abilities of the hero, I found myself bored and fidgety by the end and if it had run any longer I probably would have fallen asleep. And just to throw salt on the wound, the ending is a lazy writer’s patch job designed to undo the film’s climax and set up more sequels. Go watch Universal Soldier – it’s more entertaining.