It’s been quite a year, right? But I’m not here to talk about that, instead let’s try to get right back into catching up with the handful of releases that actually made it out into the wild. This was actually the last theatrical release before things went to hell but I didn’t quite get around to seeing it back then. And based on the reviews it got, I wasn’t that enthusiastic to catch up with it. Even borrowed it from the library a couple times. But I finally checked it out once again, watched it, and you know what? I enjoyed it a lot more than I expected to. Now don’t get me wrong, this isn’t the best example of a comic book/super powered character movie. It suffers quite a bit from a first time director who came from a visual effects background, an early-but-significant twist that was spoiled in the trailers, and extremely forgettable dialogue coming from one-dimensional characters. Despite all of this, I’m a sucker for an interesting concept and that’s the best thing this movie has going for it. It won’t be enough for a lot of people, but it was just enough for me.
Bloodshot takes place in the not too distant future that grabs bits and pieces from other big sci-fi franchises like Robocop, the Matrix, and Total Recall. Vin Diesel plays quintessential hero soldier Ray Garrison, the type who’s amazing at his job and comes home after each mission to his loving-yet-constantly-scared-for-him wife. And like Robocop, he gets himself killed and brought back through the power of modern technology. Instead of becoming a slow moving, heavy duty cyborg, he’s a much more modern and high tech creation of nano-technology. Someone who’s basically made out of self-repairing mini robots that turn him into Wolverine. It’s soon revealed that he’s also being controlled through false memories and his unwavering sense of revenge to go on assassination missions while he thinks that he’s just going rogue on a personal vendetta.
That idea of using someone’s memories and personality traits to manipulate them without them realizing that they’re being controlled is a fascinating concept in itself. It could have easily gone the route of Total Recall where the character and audience don’t fully realize whether or not he’s still being controlled and manipulated or if he’s actually doing things of his own free will. Instead, everything is spelled out pretty clearly with the exception of the final line that is supposed to sow the seeds of doubt, but instead just feel like a half-hearted joke. It’s made pretty clear through the characters and the situations when Bloodshot is being controlled, and when he breaks free and turns his revenge on those who were controlling him in the first place. There are a few moments that feel like the start of more intelligent filmmaking, like when Ray first sees his wife after the opening scene mission her face is mostly obscured from the audience. Yet that concept is dropped in the very next scene and never really revisited. It’s still entertaining, but at the same time, it’s a little disappointing when it could have been taken so much further.
Where this film lacks the most are the characters themselves. Vin Diesel is pretty bland for the most part. He’s basically a blank slate generic hero type. He doesn’t really get any good one-liners, and his personality is pretty much rooted in either his action hero type stunts or his personal vendetta. He simply reacts to everything going on around him. Next is the generic love interest KT, not Katie. She’s the reluctant participant forced into the evil plan because her lungs have been augmented and can be turned off at a moment’s notice. There’s the sadistic henchman who has the most personality other than the fact that it’s all pretty generic with the chewing gum and his baseball cap. Guy Pierce once again gets to play the evil genius mastermind after his role in Iron Man 3. This is basically the same character minus the nerdy backstory. The only other fun character is the good guy genius IT guy who breaks Bloodshot free from his mental control and is constantly eating.
Where this movie does have some redeeming qualities are the action scenes and special effects. There are a few rough edges here and there as it’s a relatively medium budget film for a special effects blockbuster, but the look and design of the nanites are pretty impressive. The fight scenes themselves have a nice flair to them outside of the occasional overuse of the Matrix/Zack Snyder style slow down/speed up. The glow from the over-use of the nanites is also a pretty nice visual, as is the moment towards the climax where the Bloodshot pushes himself to the limit and the color basically drains from his skin as the nanites struggle to keep up with the damage he’s taking. The robotic limbs also look pretty natural and functional in a way that doesn’t call attention to them, instead it just makes them seem like they’re just there.
While there’s nothing groundbreaking about this film and the concept could have been taken so much further, this is still a halfway decent little action romp. The fight scenes are good, the twists are basic but still complicated enough to keep things more interesting than a standard personal vendetta movie. It’s probably helped that I have taken such a long break before watching this movie that it feels more fresh to me than it would have had I watched it when it originally came out. Vin Diesel has teased the prospect of a sequel despite a lackluster box office due to mediocre reviews and really bad timing. I think they can do a lot more with this property than what they’ve given us so far, and I hope they bring it around for the sequel. Until next time, this has been Bubbawheat for Flights, Tights, and Movie Nights.