Slick fight scenes and provocative supporting characters rescue Bloodshot from its muddled narrative. The Valiant Comics superhero gets a film adaptation where the parts are better than the sum. Vin Diesel pulls a Schwarzenneger by saying little and kicking a whole lot of ass. The effects fueled body count make up for his lack of charisma. Guy Pearce and Toby Kebbell bring the acting muscle that props up the convoluted plot.
Ray Garrison (Vin Diesel) is an elite special forces soldier with a loving wife (Talulah Riley). A successful mission in Africa brings the enemy to his doorstep. He faces every man's worst nightmare, but gets a peculiar chance at revenge. Ray wakes up in the laboratories of Rising Spirit Technologies. A brilliant scientist, Dr. Emil Harting (Guy Pearce), has given him a superhuman new life. His blood has been infused with tissue rebuilding nanorobots. Ray can heal almost instantly from the most catastrophic wounds. His strength and intelligence have multiplied significantly.
Ray has no memory of his former life. A chance encounter with an also enhanced colleague (Eiza González) spurs his memory. He becomes an unstoppable killing machine. Hunting the psychopath (Toby Kebbell) that took everything from him. As Ray comes closer to achieving his goal, the truth behind his resurrection becomes clear.
Bloodshot begins with an intriguing set-up. The characters are quickly established. An objective is given. The protagonist unleashed with a righteous fury. The second act drops several twists that radically change the nature of the plot. This is unfortunately handled poorly by director Dave Wilson, who makes his feature debut here. The execution at this juncture is critical. The flow of the story is forced. The film becomes purely action focused. Wilson has a solid background in visual effects production. His skills are evident on screen. The action scenes are quite elaborate, but he loses sight of a good premise. Bloodshot goes full on bells and whistles. It never recaptures the initial interest.
Vin Diesel has a few moments of angst, but is nearly robotic throughout. He's almost a Terminator with this performance. The nanotech rebuilding his shredded appendages draws a comparison. Guy Pearce and Toby Kebbell make the most of their roles. Kebbell in particular is memorable with limited screen time. His introduction is the funniest and most disturbing part of the film. I wish he had been given more to do. Pearce is complex and nuanced in a role that could have easily been generic. He brings gravitas to the technobabble. Pearce has the ability to be both endearing and threatening, sometimes in the same scene.
Though it is attempting to set up a Valiant Comics Cinematic Universe, Bloodshot deviates from the comic volumes. Those looking for an exact adaptation need to mitigate expectations. That said, the film stands on its merits and should be judged purely as such. The bullets, beatdowns, and nanotech CGI should suffice the basic action junkie fix. Bloodshot needed to be more engaging story-wise. It is passable sci-fi at best. Bloodshot is a Bona Film Group, Original Film, and Valiant Entertainment production, with distribution by Sony Pictures.