If there’s one thing in cinema more unstoppable than superhero films it’s Mr Vin Diesel himself. He has truly carved out a fascinating space in the blockbuster market with his work on Fast and Furious providing him with a safety net to work on several bizarre attempts at new franchises. For every Riddick or XXX, there’s a Last Witch Hunter. However this attempt to break into the comic-book universe may be the weakest attempt yet.
Too obscure to even be considered the bottom of the barrel Bloodshot is a character from Valiant comics, though a valiant effort this is not.
Diesel plays Ray Garrison, a stone-faced marble-mouthed US Marine out to avenge his wife’s murder (fridged in a literal fridge early on). After seemingly dying himself he is resurrected with experimental nanite technology in order to bring these killers to "justice” (more murder). Guy Pearce plays the scientist behind this, apparently reusing his exact same tech from Iron Man 3 and sporting the most bizarre inconsistent (possibly Irish?) accent in recent film history.
Even Vin’s immortality and backstory could seem like an attempt to do Last Witch Hunter again if this wasn’t such clear recycling of Wolverine’s backstory and abilities.
Bloodshot’s abilities seem to extend to being completely invincible (inVINcible?) and hacking things with his brain. The only remotely interesting twist revolves around the character being brainwashed Groundhog Day style to carry out assassinations. But even this is telegraphed a mile away.
Pearse’s rubbish team of super-soldiers don’t add anything to the mix. There’s a man with robot legs, a blind man who can see and Baby Driver’s Eiza González as a woman with a device that helps her breathe...
Compared to Diesel’s godhood they’re an underwhelming bunch, though a third-act elevator fight is most certainly the highlight of the picture.
The action set-pieces are a mixed bag. Ray’s first outing with his powers is confounding, taking place in a dark tunnel, with his abilities so ill-defined that it’s a strain on both eyes and brain to decipher what’s happening.
His goal is to assassinate Toby Kebbell, an actor too good for the superhero projects he’s offered (though Fant4stic at least offered a butchered Cronenberg-infleunced attempt to shake up the genre). Introduced early into the film with a Talking Heads audio cue that should be illegal, Kebbell is truly wasted.
At least even the more mind-numbing action sequences are staying far away from Bloodshot’s greatest weakness: comedy. Whenever Bloodshot attempts humour it is unbearable, just a few variations of nerds speaking snide irritating technobabble.
New Girl alumni Lamorne Morris provides one of the most irritating characters in recent memory, a master hacker who is constantly talking to the point where the film even ends with his babbling. He is in stiff competition with the films other boffin Siddharth Dhananjay who gives such a passive performance that it feels like he was sitting in for someone else and told to merely read the lines. These characters are past parody, if the film has such little conviction in the science of its science-fiction concept that’s fine, but don’t force your audience to endure these dullards.
It’s unfortunate that the Summer’s offerings are proving so slight due to outside factors but rather than suffer through this bottom of the barrel superhero attempt, why not rewatch some Fast and Furious films? For all their much-mocked silliness there is a cheerful consistency and heart, whilst Bloodshot is ironically utterly anaemic.