Editor's note: I am reviewing this film because of its upcoming Video On Demand release. I fully acknowledge and respect the decision to close most of the theaters in the country due to COVID-19. Stay safe, everybody.
“Bloodshot” is the very definition of a Vin Diesel “vehicle.” There is nothing to entice people to see this movie other than that it has Vin Diesel. Even the “Fast & Furious” movies (which I realize should better fit the term “vehicle”) are fun for people who like fast cars and crazy stunts, with Diesel being an important-but-not-essential factor. But take away Diesel from “Bloodshot,” and you’ve got a laughably useless movie. Actually, it’s pretty useless even with Diesel.
Diesel stars as Ray Garrison, a soldier who opens the film by successfully carrying out a dangerous mission in Africa due to a tip he received. He then goes on vacation to Italy, where he spends the night with his girlfriend Gina (Talulah Riley). The next morning the two are kidnapped and held hostage at the behest of Martin Axe (Toby Kebbell), who wants to know who gave Ray the tip for the Africa mission. Axe, it should be noted, dances around maniacally to “Psycho Killer” by Talking Heads as if he could hope to capture one percent of the coolness of Mr. Blonde dancing around to “Stuck in the Middle with You” in “Reservoir Dogs.” Then he kills Ray and Gina. If only the movie ended there, so I could have an excuse to give up on it after that embarrassing dance scene. Alas, it presses on.
Ray wakes up in the lab of Dr. Emil Harting (Guy Pearce), who explains that Ray has been resurrected using next-generation tech that can repair damaged tissue. He’s now basically a superhero and definitely a super killer. Harting introduces Ray to some fellow test subjects: the robotic-limbed Jimmy Dalton (Sam Heughan), the robotic-sighted Marcus Tibbs (Alex Hernandez), and the robotic-chested KT (Eiza Gonzalez), who insists that her name is not “Katie.” Ray then remembers that he has a vendetta against Axe, and breaks out of the facility to get his revenge. If only the movie ended after he does so, so I could have an excuse to give up on this “RoboCop” ripoff. Alas, it presses on.
It turns out that Harting and his team haven’t been entirely honest about the circumstances surrounding Ray’s mechanizations. I know, who would have guessed that the millionaire industrialist with cyborg henchmen wouldn’t be on the level? Ray turns his attention to battling Harting, with the help of a bumbling tech guy (Lamorne Morris) and one of Harting’s enhanced underlings. I won’t say which one, but let’s just say they’d make a pretty lousy love interest of they didn’t help him. If only this movie ended at any point before the end of its 109-minute runtime because I have a million other things I can be doing. Alas, it presses on.
The action, story, and dialogue are exactly what you’d expect from a movie titled “Bloodshot” that can’t even bother to try to be successful with an R rating. I’ve heard complaints that Diesel is miscast (apparently he was a last-minute replacement for first choice Jared Leto), but action movies are his wheelhouse and I can’t imagine any actor adding dimension to the one-note protagonist of this disposable film. At least I can take some solace in knowing that instead of doing okay against minimal competition at the box office, this movie can rightfully bomb on VOD where it has excellent competition in the form of other entertainment options like better movies, TV, streaming, video games, books, and family togetherness.
Grade: D (for Diesel!)
“Bloodshot” is rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence, some suggestive material and language. Its running time is 109 minutes. The film comes to Video On Demand on March 24.
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