CINEMASCOPE: BETTER OFF DEAD

March 22, 2020

Email

With Covid-19 shutting down theatres across the world, Bloodshot is likely to be one of the last films many people will watch in the cinema for at least the next few months. And fittingly, it’s a brilliant actioner with groundbreaking special effects, excellent characterisation, a gripping narrative, and a stunning performance from the theatrical powerhouse, Vin Diesel, who delivers an acting clinic that will bring you to tears as you give a standing ovation until the ushers kick you out of the cinema.

Just kidding.

Bloodshot is a bad film. And not in a ‘so bad it’s good’ way. It’s so bad that you’ll need a few extra months of self-isolation to gain the courage to trust filmmaking again. To start with, Bloodshot is derivative. It’s a poor mishmash of classic action movies such as Terminator and Total Recall with little to add on top.

To make matters worse, the trailers spoil the most interesting parts of the story. If you must watch this film, then skip the previews. Otherwise, you’ll know exactly what happens in the first half of Bloodshot.

The film is based on the superhero created by Valiant Comics. The comics aren’t very good, so it’s not surprising that the film isn’t any better. Vin Diesel plays an American soldier named Ray Garrison who is on holiday in Italy with his wife, Gina (Talulah Riley).

Soon, the couple is kidnapped by terrorists. Their leader Martin Axe (Toby Kebbell), kills them after failing to extract the information he needs. Sometime later, Ray is brought back to life with the help of nanorobotics technology. He is granted many superpowers, including the ability to heal his body very quickly, rendering him nearly invincible.

Ray is seething with anger and ready to avenge his wife. Dr. Emil Harting (Guy Pearce), the brains behind Rising Spirit Tech, the company that enhances American soldiers such as Ray, uses this anger to motive Ray into assassinating Axe. Interestingly, Ray doesn’t take long to develop a romantic relationship with another solider, Katie/KT (Eiza González). As we soon learn, he’s not too broken up about his wife’s murder.

Following this is a plot twist that’s left impotent thanks to the trailers.

Surprisingly, Bloodshot switches gears, going from a B-movie action film to a plot-driven film that’s heavy on the exposition. But the narrative is just run-of-the-mill action movie stuff and isn’t nearly as interesting as first-time director David S. F. Wilson would hope.

To make matters worse, the action is underwhelming. The editing is too fast and choppy for us to enjoy the fight scenes, while the CGI is mediocre. The film is also violent but somehow earns a PG-13 rating by being bloodless. Bloodshot could have been much more satisfying had it embraced the R-rating like Logan, Deadpool or, another film it borrows from, Robocop.

The performances aren’t good either. I like Vin Diesel. In the right film, he can truly shine. But in Bloodshot he is happy to be one-dimensional. With the right characterisation and performance, Ray Garrison could have been a compelling, sympathetic, and tragic hero. Instead, we have a lazy and brain-dead film that rips off classic ’80s movies while pretending it’s paying homage.

PG-13 for intense sequences of violence, some suggestive material and language

Published in Dawn, ICON, March 22nd, 2020