Vin Diesel’s ‘Bloodshot’ feels like ‘Boreshot’

“Bloodshot” –  Don’t mess with a United States soldier.  Apparently, Dr. Emil Harting (Guy Pearce), a modern-day mad scientist of sorts, didn’t get the memo.  To make matters worse, his middle name might be Frankenstein, because in “Bloodshot”, he brings a soldier back from the dead and gives him some monster powers.

Ray Garrison (Vin Diesel) prides himself on surviving countless dangerous missions and returning home to his wife Gina (Talulah Riley), but evidently, his commanders sent him on one too many assignments, because an unsuspecting adversary terminates him.  (Please note, that this is not a spoiler, since the aforementioned tragedy occurs within the first 10 minutes of director Dave Wilson’s film, an adaptation of a comic book with the same name.)

When Ray wakes from his surreal, out-of-body slumber, he cannot remember his name or anything else and discovers that Dr. Harting has resurrected him with the help of a billion nanites.  These “biomedical constructs” give Ray new physical and cerebral abilities and have – in effect – become his blood.  Hence, the movie’s title.

Now, this isn’t Dr. Harting’s first rodeo, because he’s assembled a team of enhanced ex-military combatants, including a former Navy Seal with artificial gills (Eiza Gonzalez), a soldier with brand new mechanical legs (Sam Heughan) and another who sports a few cameras to replace his lost eyesight (Alex Hernandez).  These makeshift Avengers carry a world of possibilities to light up the screen, but other than KT’s (Gonzalez) 60-second synchronized swimming routine sans a partner, Wilson – inexplicably – does not really showcase their boosted new gifts.  In fact, Jimmy (Heughan) dons a pair of elongated arms – possibly inspired by Ripley’s (Sigourney Weaver) human forklift suit in “Aliens” (1986) – in the third act, which makes one wonder:  Why all the previous fuss with his legs?

Instead, the team loiters around the penthouse of Harting’s skyscraper, which looks a lot like Tony Stark’s tower, as KT occasionally delivers streams of verbal jabs in the good doctor’s direction, and Jimmy regularly broods about beating up Ray.

Why?  No clear reason, other than Jimmy’s a raging jerk.

Jimmy, however, is clearly not a worthy adversary for Ray, and the lack of a threatening villain deadens the film’s whole narrative.  Hey, this critic’s pulse probably never broke 35 during the 109-minute runtime, and say what you want about the schlocky, soldiers-turned-cyborgs “Universal Soldier” (1992), but at least Dolph Lundgren stood opposite Jean-Claude Van Damme throughout the cheesy nonsense.

Not here, and ’90s practical effects give way to total reliance on CGI, and perhaps the filmmakers confused cartoons and comic books, because Ray’s superpowers do not exactly inspire or suspend disbelief.  Case in point: Ray and a foe’s slow-motion fist fight (while they fall 1,000 feet) unfortunately carries all the gravitas of a peanuts-versus-pretzel decision on your next flight.

Based on the comic book’s premise, it’s easy to see why Diesel, Pearce, Gonzalez, Toby Kebbell, and others jumped on board, and to be fair, “Bloodshot” is not a bad movie.  It’s more of a harmless non-event, and after watching the finished product, “Boreshot” feels like a better title.

⭐⭐  out of  ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Image credits: Sony Pictures Releasing; Trailer credits: KinoCheck International

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