Ray Garrison, a slain soldier, is re-animated with superpowers.
Vin Diesel is a true nerd. The big bald manly mass of muscles has become so associated with fast cars and extreme sports that it’s hard to consider he is one of the biggest geeks in Hollywood. But if you look at his filmography outside of a certain series of films where he drives fast cars, you’ll notice that he tends to gravitate towards science fiction and fantasy roles.
Specifically, he’s a huge Dungeons & Dragons nerd. He’s stated that the role-playing game influenced him to become an actor as he had to play out the games for his friends. He wrote the introduction to the 30 Years of Adventure: A Celebration of Dungeons & Dragons and even made a movie based around his D&D character: The Last Witch Hunter.
The man is also passionate about interconnected cinematic, billion dollar franchises, being a part of both Marvel and The Fast & The Furious – and to a lesser extent the Riddick series. Wanting to bring together both joys of his life (science fiction/fantasy and money), along with hoping to bring the same Midas touch into a new franchise, Diesel set his eyes on the Valiant Universe.
Who, what or how is a Valiant you ask?
That would be Valiant Comics, a comic book publisher which rose to popularity in the late 80’s/early 90’s for their eXXXtreme and tough anti-heroes, with names like Ninjak, X-O Manowar, Ivar the Timewalker and Choicemaker. And let’s be honest, these characters are not household names based on the fact that I just came up with one of them and I’m positive you have no idea which one it is.
So, in 2015, at the height of popularity for Cinematic Universes, Valiant decided to throw in their hat to the ring, announcing they made a deal with Sony Pictures for five movies that would interconnect their superheroes once they reached an Avengers style crossover called Harbinger Wars.
Initial plans had them bringing two of their most famous comics to life: Harbinger and Bloodshot.
Of these two, Bloodshot remains one of their most popular and enduring characters despite both of his origin stories being one line away of a copyright lawsuit and sounding like a 13 year old came up with him while finishing a school assignment to create a superhero at the last minute.
At his creation, he was Angelo Mortalli, an enforcer for the mob who is resurrected after he is betrayed and murdered by the mafia and the FBI, brought back as a killing machine infused with nanites which render him faster, stronger, able to dominate technology and nearly indestructible.
Back in 2015, John Wick directing duo, Chad Stahelski and David Leitch were hired to bring him to big screen while former actor/current cult leader Jared Leto was set to play Angelo Mortalli/Bloodshot – imagine that version.
Sadly, that fell through, leaving the character in limbo until former visual effects supervisor and first time director David Wilson was brought in to direct and Vin Diesel, always on the lookout for his next big series, signed on as producer and the lead role.
This time however, Wilson and Diesel chose to adapt the rebooted version of the character from 2012; Ray Garrison, a soldier killed in action, is brought back to life through the injection of nanites – which grant him superpowers – and a powerful organization intent on turning him into the ultimate killing machine: Bloodshot.
There have been so many countless science fiction and superhero stories that it’s extremely difficult to come up with new concepts, fresh ideas and original twists. Bloodshot is a strange mix of all the generic elements of other better films of its genre like Robocop, Memento (I know, not science fiction, but still) and Total Recall while still trying to be different.
And the film actually has a decent twist around its first act (which of course has been spoiled in trailers, so I would recommend avoiding those if you can and that’s why you can find it all the way in the end) that shows the filmmakers trying their best in differentiating themselves from all the other superhero movies.
Though not always successful, as in the pursuit of running away from action movie cliches it ultimately falls into some along the way. But hey, at least it tries something interesting with its format and the way it tells it.
Early on, Garrison sits by a pool where he sees former US diver now turned into a part machine, “KT” (played by Eiza Gonzalez) train underwater. It stands as perhaps one of the most subtle moments in Diesel’s recent career and feels like it belongs in another movie.
A beautifully shot scene, it tells to the contemplative nature that the film tries for despite not always achieving it. Still, it’s nice to see the filmmaker’s aim higher to deliver a deeper experience on a simple science fiction premise.
Also, to be fair, Eiza Gonzalez’s performance is actually better than I expected.
Of course, people watching a Vin Diesel movie either watch it because of the man, the visual effects or the action. Bloodshot has more than its share on all three with a much more lively than usual performance from the actor with only around 5 words being mumbled and not one of them being “family”, some cool special effects (some) and two or three well made action scenes that at the very least will keep you entertained.
In particular, the first time Garrison uses his powers and the climax include some of the best moments with slick film making, decent super powered fights and a couple of nice effects. Really, when it comes to most action movies these days I just like it when they’re competently shot, choreographed and put together. I got that here, so what is there to complain?
Look, I’ll watch Guy Pearce in just about anything, the man is one of the most underrated actors working today and always shines in whatever role he’s given, even if the movie may be subpar. Thankfully, he’s certainly consistent with that quality here as Dr. Emil Harting, the man responsible for creating Bloodshot.
Although not given much to do other than spout incomprehensible technical babble and appear frustrated throughout the film, Pearce is able to lend Harting a hint of righteousness and sadness into this otherwise one note character.
Were they perhaps trying to capitalize on the fact that this shares some similarities to Memento? Most likely. Should that matter? No. Does Pearce do a good job? Yes.
Other than the Transformers series, composer Steve Jablonsky is not known for his versatility nor originality, – and even then, can many of you recall The Transformers theme? – so he’s in perfect company with an action film that has no pretension other than fattening the eye with visual candy and sugaring the ears with loud sound effects and generic music.
If you’ve heard any soundtrack in an action movie from the past 15 years then you’ve heard Bloodshot. At one point, I even though I had accidentally played Hans Zimmer and James Newton Howard’s score for Batman Begins as it’s so similar in parts. Sure, it works absolutely fine in the context of the movie but I doubt you’ll be hearing kids humming this music while they’re playing with their action figures.
- Bloodshot- Steve Jablonsky
- Training Montage – Steve Jablonsky
He’s so good, I used some of his open source code on this program
DR. EMIL HARTING
You used open source code on my billion dollar prototype?
DR. EMIL HARTING
You’ve already ripped off every movie cliché there is. I think “Psycho Killer” and a dancing lunatic in a slaughterhouse is plenty. No more ideas from you.
Son of a Virgin.
- Just like other films released around the same time as this one, Bloodshot suffered a bad opening weekend at the box office due to the global pandemic, the coronavirus. Though the opening was never projected to be large, it is said it still suffered millions in losses both domestically and especially worldwide.
- Due to the coronavirus pandemic closing theaters across the globe, Sony made the film available digitally on-demand less than two weeks after it was released theatrically.
- In September 2019, it was announced that Harbinger would be distributed by Paramount Pictures, possibly canceling any shared universe plans with Bloodshot. Here lies another deceased Cinematic Universe.