Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Movie Review: Bloodshoot

Bloodshot ** ½ / *****
Directed by: David S.F. Wilson.
Written by: Jeff Wadlow and Eric Heisserer.
Starring: Vin Diesel (Bloodshot), Eiza González (KT), Sam Heughan (Jimmy Dalton), Toby Kebbell (Martin Axe), Talulah Riley (Gina Garrison), Lamorne Morris (Wilfred Wigans), Guy Pearce (Dr. Emil Harting), Jóhannes Haukur Jóhannesson (Nick Baris), Alex Hernandez (Tibbs), Siddharth Dhananjay (Eric).

Bloodshot is further proof that Vin Diesel was born too late to be the action star he truly wanted to be. Outside of the Fast & Furious franchise, Diesel has struggled to make much in the way of memorable action films. Bloodshot really should have been that film – it is a throwback to the 1980s and 1990s action films (much like Diesel is a throwback to those action stars himself) – more fitting in an era where seemingly every action star had a movie about becoming a biologically enhanced killing machine, before turning on his makers, and when comic book movies were seen mainly as disposable trash – instead of the defining cultural institute that they have (unfortunately) become. Considering those films aren’t made much anymore, Bloodshot should have been a fun throwback – forgettable perhaps, but at least a way to forget everything else for a couple of hours. Unfortunately, it never quite gets there. It takes itself – like Diesel himself often seems to – too seriously, and even the attempts at in jokes and humor mainly fall flat.

In the film, Diesel stars as a soldier called Garrison who is mainly tasked with leading a team that does what others cannot – dangerous rescue mission, deadly attacks, etc. After one such attack, he is kidnapped by Martin Axe (Toby Kebbell)- a psycho killer who literally dances to Psycho Killer as he approaches him. Axe has also kidnapped Garrison’s wife – Gina, and kills her right in front of Garrison, before killing Garrison himself. It’s odd then when Garrison wakes up – brought back to life by Dr. Emil Harting (Guy Pearce) – who has an experimental procedure that can not only bring people back to life, but also make them virtually invincible (think Wolverine). Garrison is supposed to become a part of team of these super soldiers – but of course because he’s played by Vin Diesel, he refuses to play by Harting’s rules – and goes rogue, out for revenge. But, of course, things are never quite as they seem. I won’t reveal more of the plot than that – it has some twists and turns, most of them you can probably see coming (if I remember the trailer correctly, it gives the game away in it – somewhat I forgot since it’s been so long since I saw the trailer).

Had Bloodshot made been in the 1990s, it probably would have starred Arnold Schwarzenegger, and been about a million times more fun than the Bloodshot we got in 2020. Schwarzenegger never took himself too seriously in these roles – and his smiling face helped the audience know that everyone was in the joke of just how silly this all was. Diesel seems incapable of that – and it’s too bad, because he is not a bad actor in anyway. But he seems content to keep doing these silly action movies, but in a self-serious way – when he’s actually been quite good in serious roles like Sidney Lumet’s Find Me Guilty (2006) or Boiler Room (2000) – and he actually started as a promising director – although he hasn’t directed a feature since his debut – Strays in 1997. Whether he doesn’t get offered serious roles, or doesn’t seek them out, is a shame in many ways – one of them being that because he takes something like Bloodshot so seriously, he drags the fun out of what should be a silly action movie. The rest of the cast – especially Kebbell and Pearce – seem to be in on the joke that nobody told Diesel.

The movie was directed by David S.F. Wilson. The action sequences are fairly generic – but for the most part are quite good (the best being a shootout in a tunnel, after a car chase sequence). They aren’t quite Michael Bay incoherent – a good thing – and if perhaps the final fight sequence, on top of multiple moving elevators – drags on a little long, well, at least they are kind of fun.

I watched Bloodshot the night I got back from a week at the cottage – those days when you are tired from the drive, and unpacking, and a little letdown after the fun time you had away – but not quite ready to go to bed yet. It’s a fine movie for that sort of day – when you want to watch something completely unchallenging and stupid, but also kind of fun. But there’s a lot better choices for those days as well – pretty much anything Arnold made in the 1980s or 1990s, which is what this film is trying desperately to be for example.

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