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"Bloodshot" Review

With the Pepsi and Coke of comic book companies tied to their respective film studio masters, Disney (who owns Marvel titles) and Warner Bros. (DC), anyone else looking to make movies based on funny books needs to sift through the various indie publishers and thus we have Bloodshot, based on a Valiant Comics character whom I'd never heard of, same as the publisher. Intended to be a potential new franchise for Vin Diesel, it had the twin misfortunes of opening on the last weekend of 2020 before the Wuhan coronavirus shut down the world, effectively making its theatrical run only a few days - it was rushed to digital within two weeks - and also not being very good. It's not exactly BAD bad, but it's definitely not good.

Diesel plays Ray Garrison, a Marine who we meet on the job killing bad guys in Mombasa, Kenya. Returning to base he's reunited with his wife Gina (Talulah Riley) and they head off to vacation in Italy. There they are kidnapped by comic book-named villain Martin Axe (Toby Kebbell), who demands Ray tell him who provided the intel for the Mombasa operation. Ray doesn't know, but Axe kills Gina and then Ray. Shortest. Movie. Ever.

Nope, he wakes up in a lab at Rising Spirit Tech, where founder Dr. Harting (Guy Pearce) informs him he'd died, but had been resurrected by nanite technology in his blood which gives him incredible strength and healing skills. (He's RoboCop and Wolverine now.) Initially having amnesia, he starts to have flashbacks from his life, remembers his wife's murder, leading him to break out of RST and using the nanites ability to connect to the Internet (now he's The Lawnmower Man) and track Axe down and kill him. Very short movie at 35 minutes long.

Oh wait, it's not over at the end of what turns out to be only the first act. Here comes the twist: It turns out that Ray's memories of Gina's death are fake, a computer simulation implanted to fuel Ray's need for revenge against the perceived perpetrators, who are actually Harting's former business partners whom he is bumping off in order to bring his super-soldier project to market himself.

Naturally, Ray doesn't like being made into a puppet, so he teams up with hot ex-Navy diver KT (Eiza González), who has bionic lungs thanks to RST, to take down Harting. Still loyal to the boss are a pair of also-enhanced bruisers, one with robot legs (and later an exoskeleton) and another who was blinded, but has an array of cameras on a vest providing vision. Hijinks ensue.

Rookie director David S. F. Wilson shamelessly apes Michael Bay with some shots in spots (you'll spot them if you see this) and some frames are clearly translated from comic panels, but Bloodshot is generally anemic with a rote Evil Corporate Guy Making Soldiers of Mass Destruction plot - co-written by Jeff Wadlow (a lot of mediocre horror flicks) and Eric Heisserer (probably hired to rewrite; has a better CV and an Oscar-nomination for Arrival) - and unimpressive visual effects.

Diesel doesn't exactly phone in her performance - he hasn't reached Bruce Willis level apathy...yet - but with few exceptions doesn't really do much other than be Vin Diesel. The other performances are adequate with the exception of Lamorne Morris as an amusing uber-hacker who helps Ray counteract the control Harting normally has over the nanites.

 Overall I was bored by Bloodshot. It just looks and feels second-rate with this supposedly sinister corporation seemingly having a handful of employees and the ropey VFX not being up to snuff these days. Movies like this used to fall under the "not bad if you're stuck inside on a rainy day flipping channels" category, but even by that lowered standard, there's not enough to really recommend spending  the time.

Score: 3/10. Skip it.


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