Bloodshot is a Sony movie based on the comic book of the same name. The film is led by Vin Diesel with a solid cast rounding out the other characters including Guy Pearce. But is Sony’s solo superhero story worth the quarantine binge? Did Diesel deliver a delectable digital delicacy? It’s a strange experience since the outbreak of the Corona Virus sent this blockbuster direct to digital download which is usually a fate given to garbage bin movies. This is not a garbage bin movie. In a world of infinity gauntlets, quippy raccoons, and whatever the hell DC is doing this unorthodox movie just might be the change of pace you’ve been looking for. Or not.
The story is actually a fun twist in the superhero formula. Although this is NOT a superhero movie. It’s a sci-fi movie. A fun sci-fi movie. But if you walk into this expecting infinity gauntlets and dead parents you’re going to be disappointed. Ray Garrison is a soldier in a near-future version of our world. After returning from a mission to save a hostage Garrison and his girl are both kidnapped, questioned, and murdered by a very charismatic super-villain. Garrison is revived by a tech corporation helping wounded veterans by augmenting their lost limbs and in Garrison’s case filling him up with super-advanced nanorobots that give him the powers of the Terminator from Genisys. He is super strong, super-fast, has a nanite healing factor, and can access the internet with his mind. It’s a very paint by numbers comic book set-up that the movie knows you’re sick of.
Garrison starts off as an amnesiac but when he remembers his untimely demise he embarks on a murder mission. One slick fight scene later and the story takes its twist. I feel like the following is a spoiler but it takes place in the first third of the movie and was shown in the commercials. If you saw the trailer or read the comics then proceed. If not skip down to the end. Anyway, you find out that Ray’s very comic book-y revenge origin story is false. A digital memory implanted by Guy Pearce’s character to force Garrison to kill defectors from his company so that when he puts nanite infused soldiers on the market nobody else can create them. His girlfriend never died. There was no quirky warlord dancing to music while torturing people. It was all a lie.
You discover that this exact plot has played out four or five times already. And it puts Garrison on a warpath against the corporation that revived him and forced him to kill innocent people. The movie does an excellent job of poking fun at the ridiculous superhero trends with tragic backstories, revenge plots, and the whole “nobody can face all of those men” “But I can” macho action movie characters. While the end begins to feel like one of those exact same tough guy stories the movie is self-aware enough to call out the happy endings that audiences demand these days. I mean look at how angry twitter was about Tony Stark or Ben Solo dying. The film does a solid job of making fun of superhero movies while taking the coolest elements and putting them into a sci-fi movie.
Vin Diesel leads the film as Ray Garrison/Bloodshot. While there are Torreto tank tops, a multi-ethnic cast, a classic car, and mumble growling the movie doesn’t feel like a fast and furious movie or a xXx sequel. Diesel actually plays a guy that is helpless and scared in the first third of this movie and that isn’t something we get to see Diesel do in his franchises. By the end he sort of becomes the alpha tough guy we remember but since that’s an element of the comic books I’m not going to fight it. Garrison is a character with scar tissue and PTSD. That’s not a common “hero” idea and it’s a nice change of pace within the genre.
Guy Pearce plays Dr. Emil Harting. He’s the guy that patches broken soldiers back up and then makes them work for him or have their life saving augments turned off. He isn’t a nice guy. But Pearce plays him wonderfully. He is a character that escapes the villains we see in Marvel movies. He isn’t a world-dominating wack job. He doesn’t see himself as evil. He worked hard to create advanced technology and he knows world governments will pay top dollar for what he has to offer. He’s clearly off-kilter but played remarkably well and has a unique on-screen presence.
The bad batch of broken soldiers Garrison meets are all very cool. Eiza Gonzalez plays KT, a former soldier who’s lungs were destroyed leaving her with a mechanical rebreather in here chest. She starts off loyal to the good doctor but after seeing Garrion living in constant pain pining for his girlfriend and craving revenge her loyalty is shaken. Sam Huegan plays Jimmy Dalton. Dalton lost his legs to an IED so he gets a shiny robotic pair to replace them as well as a slick exo-suit.
The coolest and least utilized character is by far is Alex Hernandez as Tibbs. An Army Ranger that was blinded by shrapnel and is now a sci-fi Snake-eyes/Daredevil type using special armor with cameras giving him 360 vision. He’s super rad and they barely use him. The real show-stealing talent is without a doubt, Larmorne Morris. He plays Wilfrid Wiggins and is the funniest character in a movie with a shocking amount of self-aware humor. There are lines that would have been cheesy garbage but he knocks it out of the park. The movie does a solid job of establishing what level of commitment each of the three other cyborg veterans holds to the company. Tibbs is unhappy about chasing Garrison and never feels comfortable with what they’re tasked with despite still doing what he’s told. Dalton revels in delivering pain and torment to anyone put in front of him. And KT is disgusted with the lengths her employer is willing to go to for success.
The movie is a really well-designed piece. Sets look amazing. Props look both real and new at the same time. The CGI is pretty solid. There’s a scene or two with questionable physics but the whole final fight scene was reshot and the effects still look better than a lot of modern movies. I’d put the effects on par with movies like Upgrade, Live/Die/Repeat, it even looked better than the most recent Terminator movie. The look and feel of the near-future world is just cool. It feels similar to movies like Elysium or Oblivion with technology following a logical evolution but also being super cool. It reminded me a lot of Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare. Also known as Call of Duty: Exosuits and Kevin Spacey with its cool design style. Now in the comic Bloodshot is paperwhite pale with red eyes and a red circle on his chest. For 95% of the movie he just looks like Vin Diesel after arm day. But this was an “origin” movie so there’s a good chance we’ll see more assuming the economy recovers from the plague lockdown and we make more movies.
Another element worth praising is the way they show digital creations of false memories. It is very reminiscent of behind the scenes reels VFX companies show to explain how an effect or scene was achieved. In fact, the UI for editing those false memories looks very similar to the interfaces of most video editing software set-ups. It’s also worth pointing out that the movie is produced by Vince Vaughn who has an incredible eye for action and that bleeds through this movie. Fight scenes are genuinely cool to watch. Like the Winter Soldier fighting the way John Wick would. And the idea of knowing you’ll survive being shot opens up combat scenarios most movies can’t use. It felt very similar to how Agent Smith fights in the Matrix with little regard for protecting his body.
Bloodshot got a bad deal releasing the same time as a world-wide lockdown. But going digital doesn’t mean it’s bad. The action is top-notch. The effects are unique and very cool. The cast is excellent. The tone is a quirky blend of comedy and action that feels familiar without being something we’ve seen come out of the MCU formula. And in a world with the all-encompassing money machine that is Marvel it’s nice to change the formula.
The movie does a great job of taking joking shots at Marvel and DC movies and comic books in general. Pointing out how convenient most origin stories are and how perfect and happy the endings end up. The movie also comments on how people want to have the same thing over and over again, a la MCU, and how easily you can find that design and change out a few elements and people will eat it up. They don’t attack the formula but they sure point it out.
I’m biased because I enjoy the Riddick movies, xXx movies, and Fast & Furious franchise. But I know when one of those movies is objectively bad. This movie isn’t. And it has enough potential with unexplored stories to make me want a follow up more than I care about whatever DC and Marvel are up to. DC can’t get their studio to function and Marvel is a predictable money factory at this point. Although I’m still gonna be stoked when they introduce the X-men again. I’m just being honest here. So if you’re a die-hard Marvel fan this movie might suck for you. But if you want to try a different flavor then this just might be the kind of movie you’ve been looking for.
If you want a movie that will both entertain as well as deconstruct the usual super-hero genre’s design then Bloodshot is 100% a movie worth checking out. Honestly, it’s more fun than the last three Fast & Furious movies and better than all but 2 of the recent DC films. It’s arguably the best GI Joe movie we’ve ever had and the best Terminator sequel since T2. I give it a 9/10. It’s a silly movie and it knows it. And knowing is half the battle.